Laying down the groundwork

It's a committee to design a committee that might never exist.

The city of Sequim's Interim Citizens Advisory Committee met April 25 to begin formulating a standing committee that will exist at the discretion of the city council.

"We haven't even decided if this is a done deal yet, that's why we're here," Sharon Delabarre said. Delabarre facilitated the April 25

meeting. She also facilitated the city's town hall meeting April 28.

According to city manager Bill Elliott, the council ultimately will give the committee its blessing.

"You have to bring back the structure to council for council to approve," Elliott said.

The interim committee met in the Transit Center to draft the committee's structure, define its role, its makeup, the selection process for membership and term limitations. The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss specific topics of concern or issues that interim committee members had with the city, something one or two individuals had difficulty accepting.

"What I'm afraid of is you're going to get the cart before the horse here," Delabarre said.

Councilman Ken Hays jokingly said that he woke up the night before at 2 a.m. fearful that interim members would get sidetracked.

"Today we're really meant to talk about the structure," Hays said. "This is how we'll make it effective. Unless this is done properly we're not going to get a true cross section of the community."

Throughout his 2007 election campaign, Hays talked about creating a citizens' advisory committee. Back then Hays was more concerned with planning and development issues, as well as transparency in city government. While the issues are still of concern, Hays would like to see the committee more generalized, like another advisory arm of the council that actively reaches out to the community for input.

Hays also said that he sees the committee as a tremendous resource that will be able to influence city policy and yearly budgeting.

The interim committee brainstormed a list of community stakeholders - from developers and real estate agents to children and, yes, even animals. Stakeholders are those impacted by the city's decisions. The committee's purpose is to outreach to all stakeholders.

The committee also began drafting the membership selection process, although a concrete decision could not be reached. Some interim committee members felt that the city council should have no part in the selection process, while others disagreed.

"This isn't a group that emerged out of the muck," resident Pat Johansen said. "This is not our committee, this is the city council's committee."

Delabarre said that she would take the committee's ideas and concentrate them into a proposed outline for the committee's structure, then return it to the committee for comments. The interim committee plans to meet again in early May.

Although the interim members foresee the finalized committee actively taking the pulse of the community, they admit there has to be some sort of agenda set forth.

"If you don't have a structure then it becomes a town hall meeting where people just come and complain," Delabarre's husband, Del, said.

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