Ballot Question 2K – Council subcommittees

Image by Benjamin Child via Unsplash

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

En español

Ballot language

Shall Section 9, Meetings of Council, of the Boulder City Charter be amended pursuant to Ordinance No.8478 to (a) remove provisions that expired in December 2017, (b) explicitly allow council to appoint council committees that generally contain no more than two councilmembers and in no event equal or exceed a quorum of council and allow councilmembers not appointed to the committee to attend, but not participate in council committee meeting, and (c) require council to appoint a recruitment committee of no more than two members for each of the three council appointments?

What does it mean

This sets rules for council subcommittees, which are groups of council members assigned to work on various projects or tasks (CU South annexation, city attorney recruitment, updating department master plans, etc.)

Specific rules being set:

  • Explicit permission for city council to form subcommittees
  • Subcommittees will generally be limited to two members
  • Subcommittees may never have a majority of council on them (five members in the case of a full nine-member council)
  • Councilmembers not appointed to the subcommittee can attend meetings but not participate in them
  • Two council members must be appointed to a recruitment committee when the city is hiring a city manager, city attorney or municipal judge

This also removes the ability of council members to meet in executive session — that is, without members of the public or press in attendance, and with no public records of the meeting. Such private meetings were used during municipalization but have not occurred since. 

No more than two council members may meet and discuss official business without the meeting being open to the public.

Who is supporting

There is no formal group backing this measure, which was brought forward by city council

Who is opposing

There is no formal opposition to this measure

Why you might want to vote for this

This makes official the process that the city council is already using. The rules ensure that subcommittees do not conduct business or make decisions that should be made by the whole of council.

That’s important for transparency and accountability.

Why you might not want to vote for this

There is no real downside to these measures, which are informal rules the city council is already following. 

Some concern exists about the proliferation of council subcommittees, which stretch elected officials thin — not to mention the limited ability of the public to monitor the many and frequent meetings. But a “no” vote on this measure does not affect the council’s ability to form subcommittees nor would it curb their proliferation.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle

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