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MEEKER | The Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District board reviewed and discussed concerns presented at the June meeting by the Herald Times regarding executive sessions and access to public records according to the open meetings and open records law.
“Based upon the discussion we did have an oversight,” said board president Kent Walter. “We weren’t really explaining to the extent we could have of why we were going into executive session. We’ve asked Sean [Von Roenn] whenever we consider that we document why so that it’s clearly articulated to the public.”
Walter also suggested the board needed to be “more loquacious” in coming out of executive session to explain what was discussed prior to making a decision. “That was an oversight on our part in previous sessions, coming in and coming out [of executive sessions.]”
The board also agreed to hold to the five-minute rule for comments during public participation, but to “be more flexible.”
Also discussed were concerns about the resolution that requires members of the press and the public to file a formal public records request for any public records beyond the meeting agenda.
“Releasing of the [board] packets to the newspaper, or to the public, it makes a lot of sense to me to release that and hold certain things, like personnel matters, contract negotiations, etc. If it could damage what we’re doing, that’s something. If we’re thinking about something, I think the public has the right to know about it. It might even help,” said board member John Strate.
The board discussed leaving “deliberative” items out of publicly distributed information, but didn’t have a clear definition for what deliberative items might include, beyond personnel matters and contract negotiations, or items that would fall under executive session rules for open meetings.
The district’s attorney, present via telephone, said defining which items are considered “deliberative” would be “a tricky line,” and would require further discussion.
The board agreed to look at language to clarify Resolution 2018-03. Meanwhile the board directed Von Roenn to go ahead and release board packet materials that aren’t confidential “with discretion.”
The board then went into a work session regarding the 2019 goals and budget assumption development, asking the board to consider how to direct staff in preparing the budget and give direction for investments. The district has “underspent” its budget and “overcollected” revenue for the last few years, and has reduced personnel costs despite a $32,000 increase in health insurance premiums.
Circle Park Pond Update
Von Roenn reported that the district has received up to $250,000 in committed funds through various private, public and partner support, putting the district in position to solicit proposals from qualified contractors.
The district has sought legal counsel regarding water rights for the proposed pond.
“The attorney and the team discussing this project behind the scenes thinks it makes sense to go forward with the RFP and the water rights simultaneously,” Von Roenn said.
The project will likely be pushed out to 2019.
In other business, the district:
– Is installing surveillance cameras at City Park to hopefully curtail ongoing vandalism issues. According to Parks and Facilities Manager Rodney Gerloff, fixtures in the new restrooms have already had to be replaced more than once due to vandalism.
– Has installed new signage on some trails around town.
– Has broken ground on the new skate park.
The board then went into an executive session to discuss the executive director’s mid-year performance review.
The next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 21, will be a joint meeting with the Town’s Board of Trustees to discuss mutual capital improvement projects.