Council ponders trimming citizen-led panels

Members of the Langley City Council weighed their options during a meeting Tuesday night.

The city of Langley is considering possibly downsizing its growing number of citizen-led commissions, which currently total a dozen.

Members of the Langley City Council weighed their options during a meeting Tuesday night. Councilmember Rhonda Salerno pointed to a section of the city’s code, which calls for “at least one joint meeting per year between the city council and planning advisory, design review, library, cemetery and any other advisory bodies.” Currently, she said, these meetings aren’t happening, and they either need to, or city code should be changed.

To meet code, Salerno suggested scheduling joint meetings every other week with each citizen board and a quorum of the council present. This, however, could take as long as six months to accomplish.

“And maybe we decide we don’t want 12 commissions, and I know that’s a very sensitive thing, but I think we have to look at how much staff time it takes to have a commission, all of the things,” she said, “and we can’t do that without just looking individually, one at a time, at each commission and having those meetings.”

As she pointed out, the town of Coupeville has only three commissions.

Police Chief Tavier Wasser wondered if a representative from each board could have an allotted time period to present to the council during a council meeting, like a staff report. Councilmember Gail Fleming said that already happens twice a year, and Salerno said it does not provide enough engagement.

“We can change our code, but I want you to know that those things are there for a reason, and it’s to make us look at whether we really want this commission to be working for the city,” Salerno said. “And it is not for them to tell us – they are looking for direction from us.”

She suggested that a task force – made up of some members of the citizen boards, herself and Mayor Scott Chaplin – could meet with each commission and come back with recommendations for the council.

Fleming said she would go for that option more readily. Councilmember Craig Cyr suggested that the issue be put on the agenda for the next council meeting, which is scheduled for March 6.