Who’s going to supervise our regional agencies?

January 10th, 2010 by Ken

We are run by interlocal governmental boards and commissions.  We, the residents of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County, and occasionally Yelm, are indebted to some two dozen regional bodies, that provide us with services.

Regional bodies like Intercity Transit, LOTT, Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, Solid Waste Advisory Commission, Thurston County Law & Justice Council, Water Resource Inventory Area, Emergency Medical Services, Joint Animal Services Commission, and several others.

In most cases, oversight of these agencies rests in the hands of an appointed committee of elected officials, who hire an administrator, approve the operating budgets, and provide guidance and feed back from their respective cities.

Over the years, over the decades, these regional bodies and the administration of these bodies, has worked.   I’ve often been critical of some decisions, I’ve often complained about the lack of accountability to the voters, I’ve often railed against some action or another.

But, for the most part, these interlocal agreements have worked; primarily because the elected officials from the different cities, have taken an interest in their assignment and developed expertise in the field.

But, now we have a problem.

This last election turned out several incumbent elected officials.  We now have in place three new councilmembers in Lacey, three new councilmembers in Olympia, three new councilmembers in Tumwater and one new county commissioner.

Together, that’s ten elected officials who will soon be taking their seats, representing their constituents on these regional boards.  

Many of  them have never held elective office before and they will have a quick learning curve.   If we expect them to provide oversight to the various agency heads, we are probably in for disappointment.

It takes a great deal of work and often a great deal of time, before a board or commission member can understand and appreciate the agency over which they supervise.

In the meantime, those few elected officials with any time in office, will have to provide the leadership.  

It is incumbent upon the three cities and the county to work together to make certain the best and most experienced council member or county commissioner is appointed to the most important of these regional bodies.

To me, that is those agencies which have taxing authority such as Intercity Transit and Medic One.

The ten newly elected officials can serve on the those interlocal agencies with lesser authority.

Thurston County taxpayers will be ill served if novice board members try to supervise taxing agencies.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

(comments are closed).