Commissioners to adopt ordinance affecting county operations and public scrutiny

March 30th, 2021 by Ken

Our Thurston County Commissioners are about to adopt a new ordinance which will give them more independence of operation while at the same time, making it more difficult for the public to have input and oversight of their operations.

The ordinance (as yet unnumbered) rescinds two previous ordinances which restricted when and where the commissioners could meet and what items of business they could address in those meetings.  The new ordinance says the commissioners can meet anytime and any day during the average work week with only a 24-hour notice to the public.

Further, the ordinance removes commissioner work sessions from applications of the Public Meetings Act.  Previously anytime two commissioners met together was considered a “public meeting” and required public notice and note taking available to the public.  Now the commissioners can meet together or with staff for a work session on any issue without reporting to the public.

Further the ordinance gives the board authority to designate the County Manager as its designee to set the budget calendar and set the time of the public hearing on the budget.

The last section of the ordinance says “The Board finds that it would be unduly burdensome and costly to Thurston County taxpayers and would interfere with effective and timely county operations to develop an index of all current records as specified in RCW 42.17.260(3).”  It goes on to say that the Board and county departments produce volumes of correspondence, reports and studies and that making those all available to the public are taxing the county.  (That last line was my interpretation).

That action is in response to the publics requests for documents specified by the public records act.  It appears that the county is unable to produce certain files and records, some dating back to 1999 and some current.  That section of the proposed ordinance is probably illegal and is an attempt to “cover their ass.  (My words and interpretation of the ordinance)

The meeting on adoption of the ordinance will be on Tuesday, April 13 at the 3 p.m. meeting of the board.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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