The Kootenai County Board of Commissioners created an optional form of government review committee (OFGRC) comprised of volunteer citizens. The meetings are available on YouTube. I viewed the June 30 meeting.

The purpose of the OFGRC is to study the permitted forms of county government. The Legislature has specified three forms for counties.

The OFGRC is not charged with changing the form but only to study the forms. Eventually the OFGRC recommendation will be submitted to the Board of County Commissioners for their review. It would then need to be placed on the ballot to be voted upon by citizens. This is the proper way, the Democratic way, to ensure the people make the decision.

The committee invites certain people to address the group to explain their relationship with the current form and their understanding of the optional forms. Their opinion as to what is more effective, more representative, and best addresses Kootenai County today is requested.

The meeting on June 30 included the current chair of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. One purpose of any political party is to elect the favored candidates. We expect that any political party supports those who advocate for the most representative form of government, although the actual form is usually not an option.

I don’t know if our current form needs to be updated, but I do consider it my duty as a longtime resident to listen to and understand the options, the strengths, and weaknesses. The GOP Central Committee chair in addressing the study committee explained his understanding of the study committee’s purpose. He also believes if a change is recommended, there are groups that have money to oppose any change while asserting that Kootenai County has no money to counter any such effort.

Money is so often the problem. Under our current system, two votes out of a three-person commission determines the decision and exercises the control. Would more commissioners, for example five or seven, be more responsive? Would they be more likely to hear the voice of the people and not only that of a loud and well-heeled group?

Hopefully, the study committee continues to gain insight and understanding so as to convey the best recommendations. Advocating for no change now without hearing all the options seems unreasonable and somewhat self-serving. Predicting a threat to fight now without knowing what to oppose is the cart before the horse.

Above all, a necessary goal is to assure that most voices of the people are heard and the most effective delivery of our public services is happening. Keeping in what has been in place simply because it is what we know isn’t good planning. Kootenai County looks considerably different today from how it looked in the 1900s. In fact, it is constantly changing now and at a faster pace.

Local county governments are established to provide the delivery of services needed by our residents. We must determine if we have that now or will any changes help improve it and enhance our quality of life.

This study group committee’s obligation and requirement is to make a recommendation based on what’s good for our community instead of out of fear of who is intending to pay to oppose it. Interested people can view this meeting on YouTube —

By PAULA MARANO/Guest Opinion
July 17, 2021


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