Closed Work Groups to Open Up in Twin Falls

From the Twin Falls Times-News

TWIN FALLS • The 14 closed workgroups that provide input on finances, contracts and open positions will be asked to start over and fall under state Open Meeting Law due to Monday night’s Twin Falls City Council approval of a transparency resolution.

The resolutions prohibits the council from forming “ad hoc volunteer groups” or subcommittees intended to provide members with recommendations unless the council votes to create the group as a formal committee or commission, which makes the groups subject to state Open Meeting Law.

Councilwoman Rebecca Mills Sojka was the lone dissenting voice in the 6-1 vote.

“I think what it truly does, it tells the mayor or the council anytime we say we’re going to put together a committee to review something then we need to stop and formalize that committee,” said Councilman Don Hall.

The city’s use of closed subcommittees came under scrutiny when Mills Sojka attempted to open the meetings on Nov. 12 but her resolution failed 4-2.

Before voting, Mills Sojka said she felt new transparency legislation didn’t go far enough. When Councilman Shawn Barigar asked what could be done to improve the resolution to achieve an unanimous approval, Mills Sojka offered two unsuccessful amendments.

“I don’t think it’s addressing the issue I was hoping to address,” she said. “I think it’s a good step in the direction.”

The city was using 14 informal workgroups made up of City Council members, as well as city staffers and private citizens to provide input on finances, contracts and open positions.

Councilman Chris Talkington amended the resolution to include the provision that only up to two council members can be appointed to any commission or committee.

“Three has been an unholy alliance on this council,” he said of three Council Member blocs.

“I don’t think that was anyone’s intention, that was just the number that wasn’t a quorum,” said Mayor Lanting.

“I disagree entirely,” Talkington said.

Talkington also warned that there was no penalty for the council if they choose not to comply with the resolution.

“It doesn’t take the burden of proof off of us,” he said.

After the resolution was passed, City Manager Travis Rothweiler listed subcommittees that he believes should be made open to the public.

the list of closed subcommittees not created under the council but still deliberate city business that should also be formed under the council. These include the zoning amendment committee and an economic development committee used to attract businesses to Twin Falls.

From the Twin Falls Times-News

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