The Sept. 10 decision by the Kitsap Board of County Commissioners to approve, as part of the consent agenda, a backdated contract with workers at the Kitsap County Corrections and Detention Center was inappropriate and lacked transparency as the next troubled budget year nears.
We’re not saying the negotiated contract isn’t warranted. We are saying a $162,000 increase in the county budget deserves a public airing. The consent agenda is customarily used for routine actions, such as payment of bills, lesser money shuffling and appointments to boards and committees. With the consent agenda, a single vote by the commission approves multiple actions.
While approving the contract without board comment was indeed legal, the use of the consent agenda as such further illustrates commissioners’ desire to spend less time explaining themselves and their actions to the public in a public setting. While public attendance was light Sept. 10, there is no way to know how many residents were watching on cable, and how many would have benefitted from a explanation of why commissioners voted yes on the contract without previously making public its full costs.
Using the consent agenda in this manner does not cry out foul play nor does it indicate nefarious motives. On the other hand, it joins past attempts to ease the commission’s workload and better maintain bankers hours. With two seats up for election in November, those members wasted a chance to explain their leadership in — and help the public understand — the contract process.