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Whatcom County Courthouse
Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 10:00 AM
Book: 65, Page: 1

Special Meeting

Called To Order The meeting was called to order by Meeting Chair Barry Buchanan

Roll Call
    Barry Buchanan, Council Member, Third Ward
    Stan Snapp, Council Member, Fourth Ward
    Michael Lilliquist, Council Member, Sixth Ward


JOINT MEETING of the MEDIC ONE Council Policy Working Group And the EMS Planning Committee

Barry Buchanan noted that he would be chairing this meeting when the City of Bellingham was leading, and Sam Crawford would chair when Whatcom County was leading the meeting.

Barry Buchanan called the Bellingham City Council to order.

Sam Crawford called the Whatcom County Council to order. Present: Sam Crawford, Barbara Brenner, Kathy Kershner,

Staff and other participants: Tom Fields, Al Saab, Bob Busch, Ben Thompson, Gary Baar, John Carter, Bill Boyd, Floyd Roorda, Gary Russell, David Webster, and Dewey Desler

Prioritization of the Agenda items:

Sam Crawford clarified the purpose of today’s meeting and where things were left at the last meeting. The City was going to appoint the remaining members to its collective planning group. Then all six council members that are part of the Council Policy Working Group were going to sit at the table today with all 14 members of the planning group, to have a general dialogue, and to get feedback from the group regarding any tools or information they needed to move forward on their own and start a collaborative planning process. The Planning Committee would then check in again at the end of July for a progress report. The committee would also get reassurance (confirmation) regarding the City of Bellingham’s participation in the long-term county-wide system. The results would be finalized by Sept. 30th and would contain the fundamentals of an interlocal agreement that will include all fire agencies of the county, Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham.

Sam asked to hear from members of the Planning Group and any concerns about their direction and what council expectations are.

Barry Buchanan stated the Planning group hasn’t met as a whole entity yet. Planning Committee Members Include:

City Appointees County Appointees County Alternates
David Webster Dave Ralston Gary Baar
Bill Boyd Harry Andrews Scott Crowe
John Carter Bob Busch RobRoy Graham
Linda Howsen Tom Fields Jerry Debruin
Frank Ordway Floyd Roorda Duncan McLane
Marc Pierson Gary Russell Mary Beth Neal
Laurie Caskey-Schreiber* Ron Swanson Al Saab
Roger Christensen Ben Thompson Lynn Trzynka

*added after Howsen couldn’t commit.

Although the Planning Committee hasn’t met as a whole, some members have met and a summary was given of their discussion so far. A meeting schedule is yet to be set; the group identified some functions of the Planning Committee; and reviewed current understanding of governance, administration, etc. The planning committee is looking for more direction today.

Policy Group members attempted to clarify the role of the Planning Committee and the process in achieving their goals. Michael Lilliquist and Barry Buchanan suggested that the Policy Group should establish its goals. The bulleted list under “Governance” was reviewed.

Dewey Desler agreed that goals need to be discussed and established. He also encouraged the discussion to focus on costs and the fiscal realities of the goals as well.

Barry Buchanan noted that issue had come up with the City Council regarding maximum efficiencies.

Sam Crawford stated that one aspect of governance is budget approval, and that is a critical component that drives a whole lot of other things.

Kathy Kershner said the Resolution does include goal statements regarding a model system. Perhaps we should re-examine it. Is there anything to add to it? We are working with A through E – summarized.

Barry Buchanan said past discussion about section “C” brought up use of the word “equal” – is it the right word? Change the word to “fair.” Also discussed was accountability to all funders– right now, as stated in the County's resolution, ultimate accountability is to the Whatcom County Council.

Sam Crawford addressing whether this Resolution’s goal statement is the highest level goal statement, and said that even if we went with the goals of today’s system, the County Council has identified some “gotchas” that haven’t worked well with the remainder of the county. There are some issues in the current system that have caused the county to say the old way of doing business must be terminated and we must start a new way of doing business.

Bob Busch noted that identifying goals is great, but they must be achievable.

David Webster asked if we presume the same revenue contributions as now?

Barry Buchanan said he believed we would be working within the existing parameters of where we’re at today in terms of existing tax levies.

Kathy Kershner. Staying within current funding levels should be added as one of the 5 goal statements. We might want to add some kind of statement that we stay within current budget authorities.

Michael Lilliquist. Is there consensus that the Planning Group’s immediate charge is to stay within the current funding, at least for the next five years?

Sam Crawford. Let’s not ask the Planning Group to discuss county-wide taxing for long term planning.

Barbara Brenner. What got us here was the inability to be able to set up the future basis for ALS service. She believes it is up to the planning committee to guide us in improving communications between fire departments and fire districts, as well as participate in setting up for future ALS service.

Tom Fields. Is the Planning Committee discussion limited to discussions of a county-wide system that remains within the current budget levels? And if they come up with something that would require a budgetary increase, is that off the table?

Sam Crawford. We would expect a reasonable analysis of any program that would require an increase in the budget. But no, nothing is off the table in terms of discussion. We could possibly entertain a higher cost program.

Barry Buchanan. There is a difference between planning for a more expensive system or reporting that to put together this new system, there is no way it can be done for the same cost.

Barbara Brenner. As representatives of the public, we shouldn’t start the process in that light. In this economy, there is a lot of distrust out there, and the best way to resolve this problem is to figure out how to make this work now, and look towards the future, and future possibilities that might be incorporated at some later time.

Kathy Kershner. I believe in setting parameters, but also weighing some options.

Dewey Desler. We should maintain sensitivity to public concerns about spending more money. This is the fourth time that this community has taken up the mantle of EMS planning. Each of the 3 previous times, there has always been a call for more money. The third time, in 2005, the plan was accepted. There are reasonable, thoughtful approaches about how to get where you want to go. This may be hard to do, with government budgets shrinking. The 2005 plan was a 6 year plan and we never reached our service demands and spending projection levels.

Tom Fields. The Planning Committee needs some broad direction.

Barry Buchanan. To the Planning Group -- are you comfortable with what we’ve given you for direction?

Sam Crawford. Speaking for Council members, we’re ready to answer any questions you might have. I encourage the committee to go forth and see what you can come up with.

Barry Buchanan. One issue, as far as the critical elements go, they’re going to play a part in your discussions as well?

Michael Lilliquist. At the Policy Group level, we should be most concerned with equity and proportional representation for city/county residents. We can defer to the Planning Group on the lower level issues.

Stan Snapp – A critical issue is the 1st Governance system. The Governance Board cannot exclude either elected Council and cannot take away budgeting authority. This may be referencing an appointed administrative board that makes recommendations to the Governance Board.

Barry Buchanan. I want to confirm that the Planning Committee is advisory and takes recommendations to both Councils.

Kathy Kershner. I’m requesting clarification about the approval process: does each council bless their budget separately? Is there an interlocal agreement presented? How do we keep the process simple so that it continues to move forward – avoiding unnecessary extra meetings?

Barry Buchanan. There is no way around each council being required to approve a budget. But we would certainly try to work things to make the process as “user friendly” as possible. Is the Planning Group comfortable with everything presented thus far?

Tom Fields. Yes. We’ll come to you with questions.

Sam Crawford. An agenda email added items 7, 8 and 9. Are there any additional questions, such as Interlocal agreement options, definitions of stable funding, and short term versus long term. Does the planning group want to discuss these now? Or are these identified as priority work items? Short term for EMS would be five years.

Tom Fields. The planning group will work on short term, long term and stable funding definitions.

Barry Buchanan. When do we schedule the next meeting? We should meet when there is something to report.

Sam Crawford. We can wait until the end of July to meet again, however if the planning group hits a roadblock and needs input sooner, don’t hesitate to call the councils together again for another check-in meeting.

Barry Buchanan. The 30th of July is a Saturday, so another date is needed. July 27th at 10:00 a.m. is the possible next meeting date. For Planning Committee meeting notices, call and schedule with Tammy.

Bob Busch raised the question about open training.

Bill Boyd. An ULP (Unfair Labor Practice) is a planning-level question.

Barbara Brenner. Is there cost effectiveness with two separate trainings?

Sam Crawford asked about budget authority for staff support.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:35 AM.
Stan Snapp, Council President

ATTEST: Mark Gardner, Legislative Analyst

This is a digital copy of an original document located at Bellingham's City Hall. The City of Bellingham specifically disclaims any responsibility or liability for the contents of this document. The City of Bellingham does not verify the correctness, accuracy, or validity of the information appearing in this document.