Scottsdale establishes Veterans Commission, evaluates volunteer service parameters

A Young Marines member walks in Scottsdale’s Parada del Sol Parade in February. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

A new municipal commission for local veterans has been approved, while others have been altered by Scottsdale’s elected officials.

Earlier this month, Scottsdale City Council had three items up for approval all relating to boards and commissions in the city.

Scottsdale has several volunteer positions for residents, and will now have one more: A veterans advisory commission. The new group was approved by the council unanimously on consent.

A view of Scottsdale City Council during a recent public hearing at City Hall. (File photo)

In addition, the council approved 6-1 to amend Scottsdale Revised Code to rename the Environmental Quality Advisory Board as the Environmental Advisory Commission, and update the commission’s purpose and responsibilities.

Thirdly, the council voted 5-2 to continue another agenda item relating to the term limits, disqualification of membership and staff support for the boards and commissions.

All three items were on the council’s consent agenda, but separate votes were cast on the EQAB name change and the disqualification of membership from boards and commissions.

The Scottsdale City Council meeting was held at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

Veterans Advisory Commission

On Feb. 12, Scottsdale City Council directed staff to draft an ordinance establishing a Scottsdale Veterans Advisory Commission after the idea was brought forward by City Councilman Guy Phillips.

Staff subsequently researched similar bodies in other governments and drafted an ordinance to formally establish the commission.

The overall idea for the commission is to advise the City Council on veteran programs, policies and practices, and serve as a community connection point for veterans and the community.

Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips. (File photo)

The draft ordinance was available for public review and comment during May, with an open house hosted May 22. Public feedback helped shape the draft ordinance presented and subsequently approved, the city staff report stated.

The approved commission will consist of seven city residents, at least five of them are either military veterans or work for organizations supporting veterans.

Within the first six months of the effective date of the proposed ordinance, the commission shall develop and submit for City Council consideration a list of objectives and work plan that will guide their activities.

Environmental Advisory Commission

The Scottsdale Environmental Quality Advisory Board will now be titled the Scottsdale Environmental Advisory Commission.

The EQAB was established in 1993, at the same time as five other citizen advisory groups created to expand citizen involvement in city affairs.
Since then, all the other boards have been amended or abolished but EQAB’s original provisions have not been changed, according to a city staff report.

The City Council Audit Subcommittee requested EQAB’s current structure and responsibilities, which the board responded. EQAB drafted a new proposed ordinance in response, which was shared with the audit committee. In February, the City Council directed staff to conduct an analysis on the purpose, powers and duties proposed by the EQAB and bring back recommendations.

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield requested to pull the ordinance amending Scottsdale Revised Code to rename and update the Environmental Quality Advisory Board.

Ultimately, the council voted 6-1 on the item, and Ms. Littlefield was the dissenting vote.

“The reason I wanted to pull this was something that was in this letter I received from the EQAB board that bothered me a great deal,” Ms. Littlefield said. “From a letter I received, they are being hindered by giving us recommendations that they feel are important from the EQAB board; I don’t think that’s correct.”

— Kathy Littlefield, Scottsdale councilwoman

Ms. Littlefield summarized the letter from the EQAB member — who was not named — which stated the board was prohibited from issuing recommendations on most everything except policy matters.

“Other boards and commissions that we have do send recommendations and advice — that doesn’t mean the council has to take those recommendations, nor does staff, but they do have the right to speak out on what they feel are important issues,” Ms. Littlefield said.

Kathy Littlefield

“I just want to make sure that this ordinance that controls the workings and recommendations of EQAB board is not going to stop them from being able to talk to us and tell us what their thoughts are on those issues that they have studied a great deal more than I have.”

Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell responded to the councilwoman’s concerns, stating there was nothing in the updated Environmental Advisory Commission prohibiting the group from making recommendations to the council.

Prior to the vote, Ms. Littlefield asked the audience if anyone from the Commission wanted to speak on the item. There was no response from the public.

A view of a City Hall entrance in downtown Scottsdale. (File photo)

Boards and commissions

The final item up for action relating to Scottsdale’s volunteer groups included term limits, disqualification from membership and staff support.
In February, City Council provided direction to incorporate in the ordinance including:

  • An ordinance extending term limits for board and commission members to reflect that once six consecutive years of service on the same board or commission is reached, there shall be a one-year break in service before a member is eligible for re-appointment to the same board or commission for one additional three-year term; and
  • An ordinance adding a provision to City Code that any board or commission member having more than a 25% annual recusal rate, based on total meetings, may be removed from that board or commission.

An amendment was also proposed by staff to address the issues of staff support and clarify how items are placed on the board and commission agenda to make it similar to City Council’s process, a staff report stated.

Councilwoman Linda Milhaven pulled the item off the consent agenda to request a continuation in order to re-word the section about disqualification for membership.

Ms. Milhaven asked staff to bring back the ordinance rewriting it to say “board or commission members would be disqualified based on recusing themselves on 25% of the items for a rolling six months.” The continuation was approved 5-2, with councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Solange Whitehead dissenting.

The continuation was approved 5-2, with councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Solange Whitehead dissenting.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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