Columbia city staff recommends eliminating eight advisory boards

Monday, September 3, 2012 | 7:19 p.m. CDT; updated 10:08 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 3, 2012

COLUMBIA — Eighteen city government advisory boards and commissions faced possible elimination under recommendations issued to the Columbia City Council from City Manager Mike Matthes and his staff in December. Now that all the city's advisory groups have had a chance to weigh in, the number on the chopping block has been reduced to eight.

Matthes and City Clerk Sheela Amin will present a report to the council at its regular meeting Tuesday night. It not only suggests cutting eight advisory groups but also consolidating or changing several others.

Among those on that could potentially be cut are several that the report says no longer have a reason to exist. They include:

  • The Public Communications Resource Advisory Committee: It was established in 2008 to advise the council on how to distribute small grants to groups that wanted to offer public communication services. The group no longer has any money to work with because its funding was cut in fiscal 2012.
  • The Storm Water Advisory Commission: The group started in 2010 and was charged with reviewing and recommending changes to the city's stormwater ordinance. A new ordinance was presented to the council in August and is scheduled for a vote Tuesday night. The council might establish a task force to replace this group.
  • The Internet Citizens Advisory Group: The group was first appointed in 2000 to help the city create an Internet site, which is now a daily part of city business.
  • The USS Columbia Commissioning Committee: This is a volunteer group that was created with the specific purpose of working with the U.S. Navy on the christening ceremony for the USS Columbia submarine. The mayor used to appoint members, but there have been no official appointments for at least 10 years. City staff recommends the group exists as a service organization.
  • The GetAbout Columbia Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project Advisory Committee: The report notes that its purpose is similar to that of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Commission, which focuses on ways to make getting around Columbia without a car safer and simpler. It was a volunteer committee and never had any official legislation surrounding its creation.

Other boards are targeted for elimination because they are inactive or have trouble getting members to attend meetings. They include:

  • The CARE Advisory Board: Created in 1988, its sole purpose is to advise the council in all matters relating to the Career Awareness and Related Experience program, which targets youths in Columbia and aims to prepare them for the workplace. The report from Matthes and Amin indicates the group has had trouble getting a quorum to its meetings and suggests staff can handle the board's responsibilities.
  • The Armory Board and the Community Cooperation Board: The report recommends that both boards, which were established in 1964, be dissolved because they have been inactive for more than 10 years. The Armory Board was created to oversee nonmilitary uses of the National Guard Armory building at Seventh and Ash streets. The Community Cooperation Board was intended to promote cooperation among colleges, universities, local government and Columbia Public Schools.

The report also recommends significant changes to several other boards, including:

  • The Airport Advisory Board: Its purpose is to study aviation needs in mid-Missouri and make suggestions to the council regarding Columbia Regional Airport. The staff report recommends replacing an existing nonvoting member representing the Missouri CORE Partnership with a member representing Regional Economic Development Inc. No CORE member has attended an airport board meeting in the past year.
  • The Building Construction Codes Commission: The commission, which reviews city building codes and hears requests for variances, has 10 members and 10 alternates. The staff report suggests eliminating alternates and reducing the board to seven members to make it easier for the group to have a quorum.
  • The Boards of Electrical Examiners, Mechanical Examiners and Plumbing Examiners. The groups give examinations and approves, denies, issues or revokes certificates and licenses for various trade groups. The staff is recommending consolidating those groups into a single Building Trades Board.

The full text of the report is available as part of the complete agenda for the council meeting. The council is scheduled to discuss it in a work session before its regular meeting. That session is at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers in the Daniel Boone City Building.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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