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Sunnyside council reaches consensus on subcommittee meeting agendas

Several questions related to the Sunnyside City Council's standing subcommittees were resolved to a certain degree at last night's council workshop meeting.

There were questions in regard to the purpose of the subcommittee meetings and how agendas would be established for the subcommittees.

The council decided language in chapter two of the Sunnyside Municipal Code should be changed to establish subcommittees serve for the purposes of both advising and educating council members regarding operations of the various city departments.

Subcommittees may conduct hearings and take testimony and public comment with council direction.

The language was revised to ensure the Sunnyside City Council has a hand in regard to directing subcommittees.

"We don't want them going in a direction council doesn't want...I don't want to be on the back end of the information when making a decision," said Councilwoman Theresa Hancock.

Councilman Don Vlieger's interpretations of his rights as a council member are different than those of his peers.

"If you don't have the information, you can't make good decisions," he said.

Continuing, Vlieger said, "I don't want to grant staff more rights than a council member...I won't vote for anything that restricts council members."

He said he believes an elected representative has the right of inquiry per RCW. He also believes he can ask any questions he wishes to ask of city employees.

Both Hancock and Mayor Jim Restucci told him he does have the right of inquiry, but if an item is not on the agenda, a decision regarding the matter should not be made in a subcommittee meeting.

"It's okay to ask questions during a subcommittee meeting for informational purposes," said Hancock.

"We're not giving staff more rights," she said, adding council members shouldn't have the right to subvert the process of the meetings "acting as individuals rather than a member of the whole (council) body."

Restucci said, "No member of council can walk out those (council chamber) doors and direct any member of staff to do something without the consensus of the body."

It was decided the subcommittee chair or vice-chair would set the agenda with items referred to the subcommittee by the council as a whole and items from staff members.

That discussion being had, it was decided revisions to the Sunnyside Municipal Code would be made for council consideration at a later council meeting.

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