One of the things I’m happiest about is that we’ll have a bipartisan leadership team this year. Our Rules Committee sets the calendar and makes recommendations on Council business. It’s something we’ve asked for over the last couple years and I think more reflective of the nature of local government. This will be Councilmember Richardson’s second year as chair. Executive Pro Tempore, for those unfamiliar with the term, takes over if the County Executive is unable to fulfill his or her duties.
Council Chair: Douglas G. Richardson
Council Vice Chair: Rick Talbert
Executive Pro Tempore: Dan Roach
I’m pleased this year to return as Chair of the Community Development Committee which oversees land use, parks, and environmental issues. I’ll also return as Vice-Chair of Public Safety, Human Services, and Budget.
Community Development meets on the first and third Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m. — Derek Young (chair), Doug Richardson (vice chair), Rick Talbert (member), Jim McCune (member), Pam Roach (member, District 2).
Economic and Infrastructure Development meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m. — Pam Roach (chair), Connie Ladenburg (vice chair, District 4), Doug Richardson (member), Rick Talbert (member), Jim McCune (member).
Public Safety, Human Services, and Budget meets on the second Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m. — Dan Roach (chair), Derek Young (vice chair), Connie Ladenburg (member), Jim McCune (member), Pam Roach (member).
New this year are two ad hoc committees created by the Chair. It stems from discussions we, along with the Executive, have had following the failure of the Behavioral Health bill. One of the key issues was a belief that there was plenty of existing money to fund those services if we reprioritized existing County revenue. Whether or not that is true, it will require a lot of work.
Ad Hoc Committee on Human Services (new for 2017) consists of Connie Ladenburg (chair), Rick Talbert (vice chair), Doug Richardson (member).
The first will focus on human services which are funded almost entirely with federal and state grants. This committee will answer the question of whether there’s a more efficient way of delivering services, more grant opportunities, partnerships, etc.
Ad Hoc Committee on Budget (new for 2017) consists of Doug Richardson (chair), Dan Roach (vice chair), Derek Young(member)*.
The second committee will do a deep dive on the budget. While it may sound like straight forward prioritization, 83% of our discretionary budget is tied up in public safety and justice services. Since we’re already down around 65 FTEs in Sheriff Department, the goal would be finding elusive efficiencies while doing no more harm, or adding more deputies. Most of the rest of general fund is locked up in state mandated duties like elections, recording, planning, assessing, etc. There are places to wring loose some dollars that I’ve talked about before like centralizing purchasing and fleet management, but those will be marginal savings.
In order to access big dollars we need to at least think about the dedicated taxes that could be eliminated making the behavioral health tax revenue neutral. Many sacred cows will need to be put on the chopping block and there will be pushback, but that’s what we need hear.
National Association of Counties Health Policy Board
NACo is our national organization focusing on advocacy to the Federal Government. I will continue service on the Health Policy Board which will be busy this year. Key issues for counties are protecting Medicaid from block-granting, public health, behavioral health. While the Affordable Care Act may seem like it’s just about insurance, two of the lesser known components are key tools for treating serious mental illnesses and the opioid epidemic.
Washington State Association of Counties, Legal, Legislative, and Federal Steering Committees
In addition to setting the policy agenda for Washington counties, these committees spend time lobbying for our legislative agenda.
Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Policy Board
Puget Sound Regional Council is our regional land use and transportation organization covering the four county central Puget Sound region (Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish, and King). This board handles land use policy and is the approving body for our local plans.
Pierce County Regional Council
Our countywide regional land use and transportation organization made up of cities and towns, the Port, and tribes.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Board*
Unlike most counties, public health in Pierce County is a cooperative effort with the City of Tacoma.
Alliance for a Healthy South Sound — Executive Board
Protecting and restoring Puget Sound is big deal for District 7. AHSS is a Local Integrating Organization for Pugets Sound Partnership and covers the local governments and tribes around Pierce, Thurston, Mason counties.
Rainier Communications Commission
Pierce County’s telecom regulator and provider of television services on PCTV.
Tacoma Narrows Airport Advisory Commission
The District 7 Councilmember has a non-voting ex officio membership on this advisory body.
Executive Board of Crystal Judson Family Justice Center — Alternate
CJFJC provides services and advocacy for victims of domestic violence.
Performance Audit Committee — Alternate
The County Council delegates its performance audit function under the Charter to this committee.
*We already made appointments but these are a couple of changes that will be made