City to make it easier to fill seats on volunteer boards, commissions

Commissions and boards the city has aplenty, among them the Arts Commission, a Transportation Advisory Board and an Airport Advisory Committee.

Of course, the City needs volunteers to fill seats on those boards and commissions. Problem is that sometimes, when vacancies come up, there aren’t enough bodies stepping forward to fill them.

On Monday, a recently-enacted city policy that has made filling those chairs even harder came under council scrutiny.

That is, not long ago the Auburn City Council changed the language of the city code to restrict how many boards and commissions one person may serve on at a time. Today, the code says one person may not serve on more than one board or commission for a period of more than six months.

“One of the concerns expressed by the various city departments concerned with those boards and commissions is that sometimes they have had a hard time filling some seats,” said City Attorney Dan Heid.

“There are people who want to stay on (the boards they serve), but who are willing to help out on other boards and commissions, and maybe this section has made it a little harder to work with on some boards and commissions,” Heid said.

City leaders agreed that section of the code should removed to allow individuals to regularly serve on one board or another without the six month limitation.

Councilwoman Yolanda Trout-Manuel cited another problem.

“A lot of people have come up and said, ‘I’ve applied, and I’ve never been called,’ and it seems like we keep seeing the same people staying on, year after year after year, and I’m not sure why,” said Trout-Manuel.

“But I’ve encouraged some people to apply and they’ve never gotten a call. I don’t know why they are not being called, and you keeping saying we are not getting enough people to apply.”

Heid suggested the problem Trout cited may simply be that some boards are more popular to serve on than others.

Councilwoman Largo Wales suggested the City be more aggressive in its recruiting efforts to achieve greater diversity on those boards and commissions.

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