A local property rights group has proposed the creation of a citizen committee to investigate whether Kitsap County should remain part of the Puget Sound Regional Council, but so far the county commissioners aren’t receptive to the idea.
When the topic came up at a Wednesday work session this week, North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer said, “I’m not sure this would be cost-effective, or it is something that we want to do.”
The proposed panel would resemble recent task forces concerning NASCAR and the parks system. In both cases, the independent group was staffed with neutral parties or experts who met frequently over a short time period.
They conducted research and interviews, making a final recommendation to the county commissioners.
The NASCAR panel contacted residents of other racetrack communities to project how such a facility would impact Kitsap. The Parks Sustainability Task Force made several useful recommendations, prompting the commissioners to extend its existence.
According to Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson, the panel would be staffed by local leaders and experts, and not with representatives of special interest groups.
She acknowledges this charter will prevent any representative of KAPO from serving on the committee.
KAPO, additionally, is not objective. Its membership has openly opposed Kitsap’s membership in the PSRC, passionately testifying at several public hearings.
While discussing the proposal, Henderson removed the KAPO spin from her comments.
“The council has put forth their vision as to what life should be like in Kitsap County in 20 to 40 years,” Henderson said. “We feel that we should be planning our own future. We also may want to join with other counties such as Jefferson, Mason and Clallam. We don’t have a lot in common with King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.”
Henderson hopes people on both sides of the issue will participate in any public hearings. She admits that research gathered by the panel would not necessarily support a KAPO position.
“We just think that people need an opportunity to speak out on this and control their own destiny,” she said.
During the NASCAR panel, in more affluent times, the county hired a consultant to facilitate the sessions. This would not be possible today. Further, the cost of assembling and maintaining a volunteer citizen’s group cannot be estimated without having an approximation of the staff time needed to support that group, according to Volunteer Services Coordinator Jan Koske.