Communication has always been a problem for committees or commissions that a town council creates. But the problem has never been too much communication.
Many times elected officials have no idea what is taking place at committee and commission meetings until way too late in the process when a report comes to the council that is neither wanted or needed.
In Payson, the lack of communication bred distrust between the town council-appointed airport commission years ago. As a result of that, a strong distrust developed between the users of the airport and the town — neither understood where the other was coming from. It is happening again right now.
There have been numerous other committees and commissions in other towns that have become lost or have gone on tangents not supported by the people that appointed them.
Star Valley this past week took an approach we think is wrong. They have disallowed elected town councilors from serving on appointed commissions despite having no problems. They are afraid that at some time in the future there might be a problem. They are afraid that one councilor will get something on a town meeting agenda and then push it through. We thought that was what elected officials are supposed to do — get an item before the council, present the facts surrounding the item and get a binding decision from their fellow council members.
The Star Valley councilors who have served on these town commissions have been able to be at the center of important discussions. They have been able to keep the commissions on track and on point.
Star Valley has been fortunate to have some town councilors serve on various commissions who are passionate and knowledgeable about various issues. The town will suffer because those councilors will become observers and not participants in important discussions at the level where proposals are put together.
Having a town council member on the ground floor of these formative discussions is a good thing. The checks and balances come in when these items are brought to the full council and every member gets to agree or disagree with whatever idea or proposal is being made.
Town council-appointed commissions and committees help a community function better. It gives more citizens the opportunity to take part in areas of their expertise and share it directly with the political component — an elected town councilor — as well as other citizens.
We hope some members of the Star Valley Town Council will work to get this vote reversed. Good government needs the participation of elected officials on commissions and committees.