Concerned about future conflicts of interest, Star Valley councilors will no longer serve on town commissions.
Three councilors currently serve on town boards, with two heading up commissions.
While this hasn’t caused any real problems to date, members of the town council worried such arrangements could lead to a conflict when a commission member/councilor voted on commission recommendations.
Councilor Vern Leis currently heads up the Water and Sewer Commission and Councilor George Binney, the Floodwater Task Force.
Leis was the only councilor that voted against an ordinance restricting councilors from serving on commissions. The rest of the council voted unanimously for Town Manager/Attorney Tim Grier to draft such an order.
Leis said while a commission chair serves over a meeting, they do not dictate what decisions the commission takes.
Leis said he did not want to give up his position on the commission, but would gladly step down from chair if that were what the council wanted.
Mayor Bill Rappaport said the new ordinance was not to get Leis out, but to set a standard similar to other Arizona towns.
Of the Arizona mayors he spoke with, Rappaport said none allowed councilors on town commissions.
Councilor Gary Coon said the potential exists for a commission member/councilor to get an item on a council agenda and then ramrod it through.
“This provides a check and balance,” Coon said of a new ordinance limiting councilors on boards.
“I have not seen any abuse, but the potential is there,” said Councilor Paty Henderson, who also serves on a town commission.
Star Valley resident Gary Rolf said he was astounded to learn councilors were allowed to serve on boards, but after attending several commission meetings, realized the benefit.
With Leis’ and Binney’s expertise, they are a huge asset to their commissions and the town.
Regardless, the council moved forward to limit councilors on commissions. Councilors will still be allowed to attend commission meetings and give their input; they just won’t sit at the table.
The town council also moved to lower the size of commissions. Instead of requiring a minimum of seven, all town commissions will only need five members.
If more people want to serve, commissions can add additional seats.
For some commissions, it has been a struggle to hold meetings due to vacancies or members missing meetings. This allows commissions of five to meet even if only three members are present.