Taking pride in neighborhoodsCity drafting resolution to form committee to improve Washington
A housing committee will be formed in Washington, the city council determined during a special session Wednesday, but it is still up in the air what form the committee will take.
During the meeting, the council approved having city administrator Brent Hinson draft an ordinance forming the committee. A permanent committee had been recommended by the former Housing Task Force, which disbanded after making a presentation to the council in July. The purpose of the new committee will be to foster community and neighborhood pride.
“The housing task force recommendation looked at this as a way of furthering the goals of what that task force looked at and what the recommendations were,” city administrator Brent Hinson said.
The housing task force was formed to identify areas in Washington that needed improvement, whether it was cleaning up the outside of a residence or actually ensuring the safety of the building.
In previous discussions of what the committee should be like, a parallel has been drawn to the city’s tree committee many times. Hinson said that the council should establish the committee by ordinance and should establish a mission for the group. He also recommended ad hoc membership, because it would allow anyone interested in the committee to join, rather than having to be appointed by council.
During the meeting, council member Bob Shellmyer said that he objected to the manner the council was working on creating the committee, saying that it was “spinning its wheels.” He asked former housing task force chair Karen Gorham, who was in the audience, to elaborate on how the task force felt the committee should be formed.
“We’d like to establish an army of people who would respond in many of the ways we listed,” Gorham said. “I think the key in the conclusion is in the sentence ‘We want to help those in need in a way that preserves dignity and does not embarrass or humiliate anyone.’”
She said that if there were some of the items on the presentation that the council didn’t like, the committee could simply not do them. She said the main thrust would be identifying the main places that need help. She said they might be people in extreme need who are unable to help themselves.
Council member Russ Zieglowsky agreed with having a group, but thought it should be a task force.
“I’m not sure we need another committee in city government,” he said. “I think they have done a great job and I want to keep moving forward. We have their recommendations, and shame on us if we don’t keep moving forward. A permanent committee – I’m not in favor of another committee in government. I’m not a big-government type.”
Mayor Sandra Johnson said that a task force usually has a directive, and the council would have to set out specific objectives. She said the tree committee is an ad hoc committee that works independent of the council. She said she supported an ad hoc committee.
Council member Fred Stark objected to the use of the word “permanent” in the description of the committee. He said that the committee could be “ad hoc,” a “special” committee, a “standing” committee, a task force or a commission. He also made a motion to draft a resolution forming the committee. Council member Mark Kendall made a friendly amendment that said “direct staff to develop general guidelines to form an ad hoc committee for housing development and housing rehabilitation, the purpose of which is to make recommendations to the council for the betterment of the housing stock within the City of Washington.”
Gorham said that she was concerned that it sounded like the development of new properties. The council further discussed the motion and made a few changes to meet the criteria Gorman outlined.
The council unanimously approved the motion. Hinson said that he would draft the ordinance and it would be available at the next city council meeting on Nov. 6.