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Poulsbo city council shuffles committee process

POULSBO — Poulsbo city council members will once again roll the committee dice this January, with each member on the seven-seat council vying for positions that play on both their strengths and interests.

But the council voted last Wednesday to reshuffle the way committee assignments are given, amending the process from one overseen by the mayor to a majority-vote style of council control, so members themselves can work together to create the postings and toss out a Yahtzee combination.

The change is an attempt to provide council members more say over which committees they will serve on, although most liaison roles will still be doled out by the mayor.

The city currently has five committees on which council members serve: Finance/Administration, Public Works, Community Services, Public Safety/Legal and Long Range Planning. An Economic Development Committee — an idea steered by Councilwoman Kim Crowder this year — will unofficially be added to the ranks for the assignments, and later officially adopted as well. Each committee consists of three council members and city staff, and postings go into effect Feb. 1 of every even-numbered year. New council members fill in the places of their predecessors until new assignments are made.

Councilman Dale Rudolph said the way committee postings were doled out in January 2006 — the last time the city went through the process — was the start of the council’s desire to make the adjustment. He said the move isn’t aimed at any particular mayor, but will serve as a way for the council to “take back ownership” of the nominations so that each member feels comfortable they are being put to the best use possible. Unlike the committee assignments of 2006 (which will continue through January 2008), Rudolph said the amendment contains a provision that at least one current member of each committee remain for the next two-year term to keep corporate knowledge flowing. The committee schedule could be moved around a bit as well, all in an effort to create the most valuable committee combinations the council can.

“Our ultimate goal is to get the strongest possible team by the consensus of the council,” he said. “I kind of have a gut feeling that everyone is going to get their first choice.”

Rudolph said during one of next year’s first council meetings, members will nominate themselves for the postings they desire, and, with Mayor Kathryn Quade leading the discussion while the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the council, the assignments will be made. In the case of a tie, a little internal negotiation should do the trick, Rudolph said.

With council members leaning to what their strengths and interests are, the situation should be a win-win, he said.

“I envision us having five very strong committees when it’s over,” he said.

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