City of Elkins forms new committee

ELKINS — The City of Elkins has created a new Ad Hoc Committee on Boards and Commissions, which met for the first time this month.

“Ad Hoc committees can be formed pretty much at any time, either by the mayor or by (Elkins City) Council action,” explained City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “In this case, (Mayor Van Broughton) authorized the creation of it based on suggestion and request from some council members.”

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Marilyn Cuonzo is the chair of the committee, and other committee members include Second Ward Councilman Charlie Friddle, Fifth Ward Councilman Dave Parker and Second Ward Councilman Michael Hinchman.

Also attending the first meeting of the committee were Sutton and City Attorney Gerri Roberts.

“The committee is formed of several council members to review the process of appointment members to all city (…) boards and commissions,” Cuonzo explained.

“What they’d like to do is take a closer look at each of the boards and commissions that the city either has some responsibility for, created, or that are associated with the city, we have appointees on or that we make all the appointments for,” said Sutton.

“They want to look at each one individually and look at a number of things such as how the appointments are made and if that requirements for the appointments is based on state code in some cases or if it’s based on a city ordinance and, if so, are there any changes that they want to make.”

Sutton stressed that if the requirements of these boards and commissions are based on state code, the city can’t make changes without first speaking with the state Legislature or the Home Rule Board.

“If it’s a city ordinance that created the board or commission, then they could go back and adopt an ordinance that would amend the original ordinance,” she continued. “(The committee) wants to look at what their organizational structure is, how appointments are made, if they are required in any way to report back to the council, or what the relationship is there.”

In many cases, the various boards and commissions are meant to function autonomously.

“The council or the mayor makes the appointments and puts trust in the people they appoint to operate the organization,” Sutton explained.

Some boards and commissions interact quite frequently with the city. The Tree Board, for example, often speaks before committees and city council.

“(The committee is) not necessarily out to make a lot of changes,” said Sutton. “I think part of it is simply that they want to have a better understanding of all of them.”

“Moving forward, at each meeting, we’re going to choose probably two to four boards or commissions to look at at each meeting so that we’re not trying to do everything all at once and so we can stay focused in the discussions,” said Sutton.

The Ad Hoc Committee functions the same as other city committees in that it must give notice for its meetings, keep minutes, and allow public comment and observation.

The next meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Boards and Commissions is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 30.