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Supervisors consider meeting alternate weeks, evenings

January 23, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors discussed a number of issues at a public workshop Monday, including the possibility of meeting every other week instead of weekly, what authority the board and the county executive officer have over county employees who work for elected department heads, and how to stop department heads from signing contracts without first going to the board for approval.

County Executive Officer Ann Capela said if the board were to meet every other week to take action on county business, preceded by a "committee of the whole" at which it would first publicly discuss the potential action items, the board would still meet the same number of times. The committee of the whole would meet on Mondays and the items discussed would appear on the action agenda two weeks later.

Capela said such a change would put the board on a business cycle with sufficient time for county staff to provide adequate information to the board, yet allow the board and other interested parties to further research issues if desired.


"You have the same number of meetings, it's just been managed more efficiently," she said.

During the week the board doesn't meet, Capela suggested the supervisors could hold office hours to meet with constituents.

Currently, the board meets every Tuesday except during certain months when it goes dark for several weeks in a row.

Committee meetings typically include only two supervisors, are held on Mondays, and are closed to the public.

Under the proposed committee of the whole — which requires a change in county ordinance — the committee would meet on those Mondays before board meetings, they would include all board members and the meetings would be open to the public. Additionally, the Board of Supervisors would shift its calendar to meet on those weeks when the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors does not meet, allowing better communication between the two agencies.

An example of the proposed system would see the committee of the whole meeting Feb. 5 for a Board of Supervisors meeting Feb. 20. Meanwhile, the supervisors would meet Feb. 6, discussing items from a Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting.

All of the supervisors expressed some sort of support for the idea, though it is unknown when the item might actually appear before the board for public discussion and potential action.

Taking the issue further, the board discussed the possibility of holding at least one action meeting per month in the late afternoon or evening.

"We're never in session when people can yell at us," said District 3 Supervisor Joe Maruca, adding that if adopted the board should meet at the same time and on the same Tuesday of the month to ensure the public remembers when the meeting is held. He also pointed out that all school boards meet in the evening.

Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado asked if there might be additional staff costs associated with evening meetings and was told those staff members required to attend would most likely be on salary and not hourly wages.

Capela said the benefits of such an arrangement would be that all of the supervisors would be better informed of discussions held in committee instead of only those supervisors who are on the committees and that the public could comment on issues at the committee level instead of only on the day the board is scheduled to possibly take action on an issue.

The standing county committees are regional services, human services, administrative services and public protection.

Monday's workshop also included such topics as the county's organizational chart; county departments and department heads; the California public meeting law and public records act; employment law; labor negotiations; human resources, including benefits and retirement; finances, including budget and payroll; investments; economic development; and goal setting, which included mission and vision statements.

No mission or vision statement was developed, though the board agreed they are needed and will likely formulate them in the future.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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