Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 23, 2009

6:30 pm: GT may scrap committee system

TRAVERSE CITY -- The Grand Traverse County board may scrap a committee system that officials said dates "from the start of time."

"I think the committee system served us well, but we're in the need of a new structure," county Commissioner Larry Inman said of the board's decades-old set-up that could be on its way out.

All the board's business presently goes first to one of five board committees. Four commissioners sit on four of the committees, and an issue rejected in committee might not make it to the full board for consideration. Items approved by committee appear on the full board's consent calendar, where dozens of items are dispatched in a single vote without discussion at the board's monthly meeting.

But because commissioners don't sit on all of the committees, a growing number of items approved in committee often are debated a second time by the full board. Added discussion had pushed the length of those meetings to four and five hours, Inman said.

Commissioner Ross Richardson hopes a new system will result in shorter meetings and less wasted staff time.

The entire board would meet as a committee-of-the-whole at 7:30 a.m. on the first, second, and third Wednesdays of the month under the proposed change, then again at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month for the regular board meeting. The switch would eliminate one evening meeting.

The full board was to discuss the possible change when it met last evening.

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