A resolution submitted by County Assembly of Delegates member Ronald Bergstrom seeks to eliminate the three-member, elected-at-large County Commissioners with a five member board elected regionally. The resolution was submitted at the Regular meeting of the Assembly of Delegates on January 18th.
The resolution states that the proposal is evoked by reports commissioned by the County and "numerous comments received from the public."
Others say that this is an effort to neutralize the "new order" on the County Commission that moved in when Republicans Leo G. Cakounes and Ronald Beaty assumed majority control of the three-member board. The two fiscal conservatives are moving to cut up to $1 million from the County budget and are embroiled in a controversy surrounding the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative and its recently-resigned Executive Director Andrew Gottlieb.
Many people believe that this resolution is more a reaction to the conservative approach now being exercised by the County Commissioners rather than anything concerning "structure and efficiency" of County government. Is this an attempt by the Assembly to neuter the will of the voters that seated two fiscal conservatives on the Commission?
Commissioner Ronald Beaty issued a statement Thursday night:
As a staunch advocate for limited government and fiscal responsibility, I must strongly oppose the restructuring proposal now being made in our County legislature.
It would unnecessarily expand the size of our regional government by increasing the number of county commissioners from 3 to 5, while maintaining the 15 member Assembly of Delegates..
It would also cause an irresponsible increase in the financial cost to administer the County because all 5 Commissioners would likely have to be paid at least $25,000.00 per year each plus benefits, versus the approximate $14,000 per Commissioner it now costs annually.
Finally, by electing 5 Commissioners from yet stiĺl undefined smaller districts instead of Cape-wide as is the present practice with the 3 County Commissioners, it would render the Executive Branch of county government much more susceptible to being controlled by special interest groups. County Commissioners need to be elected county-wide to help ensure that they represent ALL Cape Codders!
The full text of the proposed resolution appears below:
In the Year Two Thousand and Seventeen
PROPOSED RESOLUTION 17-01
Whereas, the members of the Assembly of Delegates and the Barnstable County Commissioners have been reviewing the structure and efficiency of Barnstable County Government; and
Whereas, two reports commissioned by the County and issued within the past, and numerous comments received from the public have recommended a restructuring of County Government.
BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that we, the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates agree to consider a restructuring of the current County Government model and recommend the following Executive and Legislative Branch models:
EXECUTIVE BRANCH: The executive powers of the Cape Cod regional government (Barnstable County) shall be exercised by a board of regional commissioners consisting of five members. Each member shall be elected from one of (5) five districts of Barnstable County.
County Administrator: A so-called strong County Administrator shall be appointed to manage the day to day affairs and business of Barnstable County.
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: The Assembly of Delegates shall consist of one elected non-partisan representative from each town in Barnstable County, with a weighted vote system.
This Resolution represents the opinion of the Assembly of Delegates relative to the model and the initial steps that are necessary to implement a re-structuring of County Government.
The Assembly of Delegates shall seek to refine the concepts outlined in this Resolution by working with the Barnstable County Commissioners, legal counsel, and/or any sub-committees created for this specific purpose so as to present a single restructured governance model for approval by the population of Barnstable County.
(Submitted by Chatham Delegate Ronald Bergstrom at a regular meeting of the Assembly of Delegates on January 18, 2017)