Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vancouver USA Commissioner Proposes Board Expansion

The Washington state Port of Vancouver's port commissioner Jerry Oliver has suggested increasing the three-member governing board to five members, citing public meeting rules that forbid any two commissioners from having private conversations about board business.

Oliver's idea to change the 97-year-old make up of the board, however, does not appear to be gaining many supporters.

Port Executive Director Larry Paulson told The Columbian that adding more commissioners would certainly cost the port more money at a time when port officials are trying to keep costs down. The three commissioners, which are elected for six-year terms and receive wages, benefits and travel expenses, cost the port collectively about $36,000 a year.

Former port commissioner Arch Miller, who thinks the smaller commission works better, also told the paper that new commissioners would add extra costs because the new board members would likely need additional support staff.

Current commissioner Nancy Baker told the paper that she does not share Oliver's concerns about communications. She said such a proposal raises numerous questions that would need to be answered, such as the potential costs of expanding the commission and what might happen to the port district boundaries.

Current commissioner Brian Wolfe said he doesn't think the three-member board is the best way to govern, and told the paper that he would have to see some costs analysis before moving forward.

On Oliver's motion, port staff were directed to prepare a report on the topic before the January commission meeting.

If the proposal does move through the commission, it would still have to be approved by the voters.