By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Officials hope that revamping the Town Council's committee structure will help the panel and town staff work more efficiently.
"We're trying to work smarter and more efficiently and still keep it open," Mayor Tim Taylor said Wednesday.
During council evaluations conducted earlier this year, "we heard a lot of [council members] talking about how they'd like to work more in work sessions," Taylor said. They "really liked" when the whole council got together, he said.
The existing committee structure -- in which there are eight panels, each made up of three council members -- led to the council "rehashing a lot of things," Taylor said, as a majority of its members often did not attend the committee meetings.
According to a summary of the committee restructuring proposal, which was discussed at the council's Saturday work session, there would be three standing committees -- finance, ordinance and infrastructure -- that would each be made up of four council members. The infrastructure committee would replace the utilities, streets and buildings and grounds committees, Taylor said, as "a lot of time we found an awful lot of overlap with those."
Issues formerly addressed by the personnel, recreation and public safety committees would be addressed during council work sessions, which would take place monthly, the summary says. Special committees could be formed as needed to address issues, it says.
As well as filling the standing committees, council members will fill contact positions for personnel, public safety and recreation issues, and serve as representatives of the council in other town organizations or on committees, it says. Agendas of all meetings will be created by the town staff and posted on Strasburg's Web site and at the town office, it says.
Having discussion during the work sessions "might cut down on the time of some of our council meetings," Taylor said. The council wants the public to be able to attend the work sessions and committee meetings, he said, as "that's where most of the work tends to get done."
Taylor said he's still considering which council members will serve as committee leaders, contacts and representatives. Part of the town code will have to be changed to allow for the new committee structure, he said, which the town may be able to implement in October.
Town Manager Kevin Fauber said he and town planner Judson Rex "kind of helped draft the changes" and the town staff is "certainly welcoming the opportunity to give it a try."
The new structure does create "a little more work" for the staff members, who will now work with committee leaders and contacts to set meeting agendas, Fauber said. But, he said, they welcome the reduction in the number of monthly meetings.
"And we also think that going this route, we hopefully will become a little more efficient in how we conduct business," he said.
Fauber said he thought everybody was "going into it with an open mind."
"They want to see it work," he said.