Freeholders form ad-hoc committees

"Three ad-hoc committees of the Kitsap County Board of Freeholders spent last week getting organized in advance of the reform group's second meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11.The committees were asked to determine how the newly elected freeholders should operate, how much they can spend and what they should discuss at a Jan. 6 workshop.The 21-member Board of Freeholders is charged with writing a new charter, or county constitution, for Kitsap. They were elected Nov. 7, the same day voters passed a resolution authorizing a county government reform effort.The three committees that set to work last week were the Rules and Procedure Committee, the Budget and Personnel Committee and the Workshop Committee.The Workshop Committee will plan a Jan. 6 get-together at which freeholders will learn about home rule efforts in other counties, as well as get members to know one another, according to Mary Ellen Madison, the interim chair of the board. The Workshop Committee is chaired by Leif Bentsen of Indianola.The Budget and Personnel Committee, chaired by Andrew Maron of Bainbridge Island, will examine the freeholders' budget and staffing requirements. The Procedures Committee, meanwhile, drafted a proposed by-laws document last week. The rules are scheduled to be discussed by the Board of Freeholders at its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at the Bremerton School District boardroom, located at 134 N. Marion in Bremerton.The proposed by-laws, which still must be approved by the full board, call for twice-monthly meetings, to be held on the first Saturday and third Monday of each month. Meeting locations would rotate between an unspecified home site and locations in each of the three commissioner districts.The proposed by-laws also call for four officers: a chairperson, two vice-chairs and a secretary/administrator. The by-laws suggest that the chair and vice-chairs should come from different commissioner districts, so that each of the county's three regions are represented.We took the rules and procedures that had been created for Clallam County (which approved Home Rule in 1976) and basically Kitsap-ized it, said Brownsville resident Matt Ryan, who chairs the Procedures Committee. We'll put it out at our next meeting.Another item which might be on Monday's agenda is election of a permanent Board of Freeholders chair. State law requires the board to elect a permanent chair by Dec. 22.Madison was selected interim chair by virtue of earning the most votes of any of the 21 freeholders in the Nov. 7 general election. The board also is required to establish a regular meeting schedule within 90 days of the freeholder election.The board plans to make those deadlines, Madison said, but there is no way that this process is going to any faster than it has.The freeholders are required to write a new county charter by June 30, 2002. The charter would then be submitted to voters, who would have the option of either accepting or rejecting the document.Among the reforms discussed by Home Rule supporters prior to last month's election are expanding to a five- or seven-person Board of County Commissioners, adding an elected or appointed county executive and granting Kitsap citizens new powers of initiative, referendum and recall. "

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