COWncil Roundup – February 8th, 2011

February 22, 2011

The Woodside Town COWncil’s most recent meeting was attended by all the COWncilmembers, and lasted for about an hour. As always, you can watch it on Mootube.

The meeting began with a proclamation honoring Perry Vartanian’s many years of service to the Town of Woodside. He has been active on a number of volunteer commitees most recently the Towns General Plan Update and was a long time Town Council member. He gave a short speech promising to be around for further service, if needed. A fairly sizeable crowd turned up to congratulate him. We join in the applause. It is people like Perry, willing to give their time and talent that make a difference in our COWmunity.

The COWncil then moved on to the Consent Calendar. COWncilmember Burow asked that the Monthly Financial Report be pulled off the Consent Calendar in order to talk about it. He stated his concerns about the Town’s falling revenue, and suggested that if there was continued deterioration in the Town’s financial position, that the Town should be prepared to reduce costs. Kevin Bryant, the Assistant Town Manager, said that staff were keeping an eye on the situation, and had already decided not to fill an open position and were looking at cutting back on travel and conference expenses. We hope these cuts will be thoughtfully and selectively made. We particularly think it important for our COWncil and staff to participate in conferences where they learn how other cities are handling common issues.

The bulk of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of the updated General Plan review and adoption schedule, and then the creation of another Town COWncil ad hoc COWmittee. This one will review the complete General Plan draft text. As the report prepared by Town Manager Susan George noted, the COWncil’s second review of the General Plan was a time-consuming process that took four months and thirteen meetings. She characterized that process as a “very useful exercise” that provided “added value” to the update process. The COWncil had to decide what its role would be and how much more hands-on review to do for a process that currently is scheduled to end next February.

The COWncil, after weighing the options of a full Town COWncil review of the marked-up draft, or creating a subCOWmittee to do it, chose the subCOWmittee. Concern over how long the process of allowing the Town COWncil to go over the whole draft again line-by-line would take seemed to be the driving force, but concerns that the subCOWmittee might decide policy questions that the whole COWncil should vote on were also expressed. In the end, Mayor Ron Romines and COWncilmember Peter Mason were appointed to the ad hoc COWmittee (with the option for adding a third member), but COWncil member Dave Burow’s very reasonable suggestion that any substantial policy questions should be brought back to the full COWncil was agreed to in principle by the COWncil.

The COWncil also looked for ways to speed up the process of reviews and revisions, concerned that the schedule now ends in a public hearing in February 2012, a month after Susan George is slated to retire. There was general agreement that they would like it to be completed on her watch, with COWncil member Dave Tanner stating, “No leaving unless it’s done!”, causing the Town Manager to reply, “That’ll motivate me!” Ron Romines followed that up with, “Think of it as a reverse golden parachute,” to which Ms. George jokingly replied, “It’s more like a lead weight.”

The meeting wrapped up with Communications. COWncil member Anne Kasten spoke about the ongoing Woodside Library renovation project, which seems to be lagging. She stated that they don’t envision closing for the six month construction project before May, and they haven’t brought their plans to either the ASRB or the Planning Commission yet. It seems like this project is one to watch to make sure time and cost overruns don’t get out of hand.

The COWncil also canceled their February 22nd meeting, so the full COWncil won’t meet again until March.

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