After years of the Wilsonville City Council designating liaisons to various City boards, commissions, committees and task forces, the council reevaluated the need for the system at a councilor training session in February.
The council ultimately decided to scrap the practice in favor of more streamlined, need-to-know basis reports.
Historically, the purpose of liaisons has been to create and maintain a direct line of communication between City boards, commissions, committees and task forces and the city council. The goal was to promote cross-pollination of ideas from the advising groups to the decision-making council, according to the City of Wilsonville Council Protocol Manual.
According to City Manager Bryan Cosgrove, the decision to abandon liaising resulted from councilors already having a myriad of council commitments, Metro meetings and other regional meetings without City liaising on top. Cosgrove also said there was some concern surrounding councilors attending Development Review Board meetings since some project applications come before the city council for later review and approval or rejection.
The new system will have City groups participate in an annual retreat with the council to touch base. Groups will also provide the council with written updates at council work sessions, supplemented by regular updates on group activities by the city manager and staff. The council will also provide written feedback and updates on council activities to the groups periodically.
Reactions from City groups have been mixed thus far.
Planning Commission Chair Jerry Greenfield said that he and the Planning Commission are pleased with the new report-based system and believe that the new method will be more thorough and likely better than the previous.
"We hadn't been getting a comparable written report as part of our monthly meeting packets and now we will and we think that this is a good step forward," Greenfield said. "We liked it very much and we thought that the report (from council) was very complete, concise and very useful. We give our full-hearted support for it."
Wilsonville Public Library Board Chair Megan Chrisman said that the board has not yet decided to take a position on the issue, but that she and several members expressed concern at the February library board meeting when the decision was announced to them.
"Personally, I am disappointed in this policy decision," Chrisman said in an email interview. "The line of communication by having an active and engaged council liaison is critical for sharing key and timely messages about policy between the city and boards and commissions that review policy for services provided to our citizens. By shutting down this forum for communication, the City is greatly impeding access to information that could be key to making important policy decisions."
Chrisman went on to say that she hopes that the council's decision doesn't cause councilors to distance themselves from their previous liaison tasks and the groups that they worked with.
"That being said, the Library Board has benefitted greatly from having a strong line of communication with Councilor Stevens," Chrisman said. "She has been an asset, and I believe she has been able to provide City-wide context for policy discussions at our board meetings."
Since the decision to end liaising, Councilor Stevens has continued to attend the library board meetings.