Posted: Jun 18, 2012 11:13 AM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Jun 19, 2012 9:15 AM
HAMILTON- The idea of reducing the size of the Ravalli County Commission will probably sink or swim this week as the board discusses whether to place the proposal before voters this fall.
The concept of trimming the size of the county commission from five back to three members has been floating about since last fall, when the commissioners were wrestling with ideas of squeezing every dollar they could out of the budget.
Former Commissioner Matt Kanenwisher first raised the idea, suggesting reducing the size of the commission should at least be analyzed. He believed it was time to review whether a five member board was more effective than a three member panel, and if the county could actually save money by moving back to a trio of commissioners.
Kanenwisher wasn't endorsing the change, but merely saying it was an idea the county should analyze. However, now that Kanenwisher has resigned, no one has really stepped forward to pick up the torch. And in fact, the idea of going back to a three member commission appears to be actually losing some steam.
During last week's Republican Central Committee meeting the men who were vying to fill Kanenwisher's seat were asked about the reducing the size of the commission and none of them seemed ready to jump on the bandwagon.
All of the candidates questioned whether the change was warranted, saying the idea needs more study, especially when it comes to cost.
One point being raised in recent weeks is whether the county should just wait for the regularly scheduled review of the government study commission, letting that panel analyze a possible change.
But time is running out for any change to make it onto the ballot this fall. And Tuesday, commissioners will discuss whether there's enough support to proceed with a proposed reduction for voters to look at in November.
If the board thinks the idea should be pursued now, it would set up dates for public hearings in time to make the ballot. However, if commissioners decide it's better to wait, the concept of changing the commission size will likely be shelved, at least until the study commission meets in a couple of years from now.