Editorial: Consolidate, simplify boards

Advisory committees can serve important functions for the city, but more exist than are necessary.

August 9, 2017


The city of Lawrence is right to eliminate and consolidate some of the advisory boards and committees serving the City Commission.

At present, 44 such boards and committees are providing input to city commissioners. That’s a large number requiring an overwhelming number of meetings and significant staff time. City staff is right to look for a more efficient approach.

Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said staff members are “trying to streamline the overall number and trying to gain efficiencies, both in terms of the way the boards are functioning but also the staff involved in the boards.”

Staff recommend that commissioners consider consolidating several boards that have overlapping or duplicate missions.

For example, staff recommend that the six construction code appeals boards — building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire and contractor licensing — be combined into a single board. Staff also recommend that the commission consolidate the Joint Economic Development Council and Public Incentive Review Committee; the Lawrence Alliance and Human Relations Commission; the Social Service Funding Advisory Board and Transient Guest Tax Program Advisory Board; and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

And staff is recommending that the following committees and advisory boards be eliminated: Sales Tax Audit Committee, Homeless Issues Advisory Committee, Sister Cities Advisory Board and Community Development Advisory Committee, Lawrence Advisory Board on University Student Issues, Downtown Parking Advisory Board and the ECO2 Commission.

Advisory committees and volunteer boards provide opportunities for residents to become active and engaged in city government. Often, such roles are the first step in seeking office.

But such boards and committees are only beneficial so long as the group’s mission is clearly defined and its members are meeting on a regular basis and producing results on behalf of the city. In some cases, boards were designed only to address a specific issue, with no need to continue meeting once the issue has been resolved.

Condensing city advisory boards and committees makes sense. City commissioners should follow through on staff’s recommendations and make reviewing such boards for elimination and consolidation an ongoing function in the future.


David Holroyd 10 months, 2 weeks ago

If there are fewer boards and the staff has been involved with the boards, it stands to reason that the staff should be reduced also.


What say Mr. Markus....? What say Mayor Soden?

Michael Kort 10 months, 2 weeks ago

i think that those who want to consolidate the building codes appeal boards into one single board should go to the codes department and get, read and learn the entire building codes by memory, get a degree in structural, etc., so that they are fit to go and pick and chose who should be on a consolidated board, by personally testing the candidates knowledge of the various sections of the accepted building codes and rules of structural fitness .


Where will they find licensed plumbers who are also licensed as electricians who also qualify as structural engineering experts ?............how about really busy ones...... in the yellow pages who will get back to you in a month, who don't work for free .

This could make for long and contentious meetings that one trade would have to sit thru while other trades have the floor for an endless round of discussions which ought to be fun all around .

Experience in any of the trades counts for much where a contractor seeks to appeal and build something outside of the acceptable limits of the codes that requires maybe trade experience research and great common sense .

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