Silver City – The Silver City Town Council on Tuesday will consider notice of intent ordinance 1268, designed to clarify how the town's various advisory groups function, in hopes of improving processes and making it easier and more satisfying for community volunteers to serve. District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith is sponsoring the proposed ordinance, which if approved opens a two-week public comment period, required before the ordinance comes before the Council for a vote.

"What I hope to accomplish with this ordinance is to improve the structure of our town advisory groups, remove unnecessary meeting requirements, and clarify reporting roles to ensure that we are using valuable volunteer time in the most productive way possible," said Councilor Aiman-Smith. "We really need engaged citizens to be involved, and I'm hoping these changes will improve volunteers' experience so that they will continue to serve, and town leadership and staff will find it easier to recruit volunteers."

As with many municipal governments around the country, the Town of Silver City offers various opportunities to engage citizens in local government, which generally fall into one of three categories: advisory groups, committees or commissions, and task forces. As the name implies, advisory groups are established to gather information, act as liaisons to other parts of the community, and advise department directors on specific issues, but have no decision-making authority.

Some committees or commissions have decision-making authority as outlined by the specific town ordinances or resolutions which established them. Task forces are generally created for a limited period of time to investigate, conduct research and make recommendations toward a specific community need or project, and then are disbanded once that task is complete. The power to create task forces falls under the mayor's authority.

NOI 1268 eliminates the monthly meeting requirement for advisory boards, though such groups may choose to meet more frequently as needed. The required board size will also be reduced to five voting members, plus two ex officio members, which research shows to be most effective, explained Aiman-Smith. The ordinance further mandates that ex-officio members are not allowed to vote, which is considered a common or best practice for such groups.

The ordinance also enables the creation of an Incentives Review Committee only on an as-needed basis when there is an incentives package to be considered. Town management and staff will complement these ordinance changes with improved orientation and education processes to better ensure that volunteers are clear about their roles and responsibilities, said Aiman-Smith.

"We so appreciate the amazing array of professional skills and experience that our volunteers offer our community, she said, and we anticipate that these changes will make their service to the town more enjoyable and rewarding."