Banks, Government, News

City plans document to outline roles and responsibilities of city councilors, citizen volunteers

The Banks City Council is formalizing and consolidating into a document to be posted on the city of Banks website the roles and responsibilities of city councilors, as well as those of citizens on volunteer boards, committees, and commissions.

The move comes as the city grapples with two council resignations and numerous open positions on boards and commissions in the city.

The informal rules and guidelines currently are outlined in a 30-page document kept at Banks City Hall. Typically, they are verbally communicated to those seeking public office and to citizens interested in volunteering for a position on the planning commission, economic development board, parks and recreation committee, budget committee, or urban renewal agency.

Councilor Pete Edison said the 30-page document was approved by the city council “a few years back,” but City Recorder Angie Lanter and City Manager Jolynn Becker conveyed the need to consolidate the rules and guidelines into a three-page document for the sake of brevity.

“We want to make it easier to read so that everything (required) is right there at someone’s fingertips,” Becker said.

Lanter said the new, slimmed-down version of the guidelines borrows from a similar document drafted by another city.

The working document establishes the date and time of monthly city council meetings and explains that city councilors also are members of the Banks Urban Renewal Agency and the city of Banks Budget Committee. Councilors are required to attend an annual retreat and occasional joint work sessions with other city boards, committees, and commissions, and those councilors also are assigned to represent the city on committees with outside agencies.

The document also says elected and appointed officials, including citizen volunteers, are required by state law to file a statement of economic interest report with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to declare any possible financial conflicts of interest in their duties, due on April 15 each year.

Each elected councilor is issued a city-owned laptop computer that can be used to access an email account that is established for each member of the council. (Reporter’s note: emails sent and received from that account are official public documents reviewable by the public and the media through a public information request.)

Banks City Council members are required to “conduct themselves in a manner that will bring credit upon the city government by respecting the rule of law, ensure the non-discriminatory delivery of public services, keep informed about all matters coming before the city council, and abide by all council decisions whether they individually voted in favor of them or not,” the document says.

Additionally, the responsibilities state that when addressing the public elected Banks representatives “should stick to questions or issues under discussion, and should refrain from personal attacks (or from impugning) the motives of a speaker.” They also are expected to refrain from using statements as questions and from making repetitive statements as a means of attempting to persuade other city councilors.

“The current book covered all of the (responsibilities) of the different boards and commissions of the city,” Lanter said. “My thought is to separate out the city council and create (new documents) for each board and committee more specific to the roles of those bodies. Some of them are not as in-depth as the council document. That way it’s one thing and not necessarily a Cliff Notes version but something small a person can read that applies to their civic service position.”

Councilor Jeff Thompson said he thinks creating a concise document is a good idea and that it would help anyone interested in taking on a role with the city to easily understand the rules and responsibilities that go with individual positions and to quickly be able to digest that information without having to thumb through a mind-numbing, huge document.

“It could make recruiting people easier if they can see the roles and responsibilities in a small book,” Mayor Stephanie Jones said. 

Lanter informed the council that the completed document will be posted on the city’s revamped website and said that she plans to begin taking photos of each city councilor to include with a short bio that will be posted under the website section “Meet the Mayor and city council.”

Some of the councilors indiscernibly grumbled a little bit at Lanter’s plan.

“My idea is to do this with all of the (citizen volunteer board members) so the public can see who is representing them and easily see what each committee is charged with doing for the city,” Lanter said.

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