By Dedra Cordle
The Greater Hilltop Area Commission could look to streamline its monthly meeting schedule in the coming year.
At the full commission meeting held on Dec. 6, the legislative body weighed the merits of a proposal that calls for the consolidation of its subcommittees.
As it currently stands, the area commission that serves parts of the city’s westside has nine subcommittees, a majority of which meet on a monthly basis. The proposal put forth by members of the human services and education committee does not recommend the elimination of any of the nine subcommittees. Instead, they are requesting that similar subcommittees combine meeting dates to not only make business run more smoothly, but also to reduce the number of meetings commissioners are required to attend each month.
“The Greater Hilltop Area Commission is one of the larger legislative bodies and so we have a lot of subcommittees and they all meet individually,” said commissioner James White in an interview after the meeting. “Because we all serve on at least two subcommittees, we are attending a lot of meetings where there can be a lot of overlap in what is discussed.
“This proposal would combine several of these subcommittees so our commissioners could have the time to attend the committee meetings they are not on so we can all have a better understanding of what is taking place in the community and be more proactive and do our jobs more efficiently (when we meet as a full commission).
Under the proposal, the nine subcommittees would be split into five groups. The subcommittees that would be paired together under this proposal would be community relations and government and legislation; public safety and liquor permit; and human services and education and planning and economic development. The subcommittees that would still be held by themselves are finance, recreation and parks, and zoning.
White explained that the former meets on an ad hoc basis to discuss the budget, while the latter two subcommittees need to be held on their own due to the logistics of what they do.
White also serves on the recreation and parks committee and said he did not feel it was “fair” to ask other committees to come out to their meetings as they are held in the parks where they often clean up the grounds.
Several of the commissioners said that while they were in favor of the consolidation request, they did question whether the committees should be paired differently. For instance, members of the public safety committee said they felt it would make more sense to be paired at meetings with members of the economic development and planning committee or the human services and education committee rather than the liquor permit committee.
White said the rationale behind pairing the public safety committee with the liquor permit committee is because of the overlap when discussing whether businesses should be given the clearance to serve alcohol on their premises.
“A lot of times, (the issue of safety) comes into it because that establishment in the past could have had violations so it made sense to lump it into public safety because it can become a public safety nuisance,” he said.
Commissioner Patrick Barnacle said while he did agree with that reasoning, he felt the liquor permit committee should be kept on an ad hoc basis and that public safety should be paired with another committee such as human services and education.
“I would also note that some of the public safety concerns do come from the youth who are school age, so there is a lot of overlap between those groups,” he said.
Although most of the commission did seem in favor of making adjustments to the subcommittee meeting schedule, they did not vote upon the presented proposal at the meeting. They said they will continue to discuss which subcommittees should be paired together – or whether to make any changes to the monthly meeting schedule at all.
“This is not set in stone,” said Victoria Bates-Frye. “We have options to switch it up as we see fit.”
In other news, the commission pushed back its nominations to appoint an individual to serve via appointment at the meeting. Instead, the vote will take place at the full commission meeting on Jan. 3, 2023. However, commissioner Rachel Wenning did formally nominate James White for consideration during the meeting. White has been serving on the commission as an appointed member for the past three years. She said she nominated White because of his commitment to the community, to the commission, and to the work they do.
Community liaison Olabisi Eddy announced at the meeting that the Columbus City Attorney’s Office and MY Project USA will be hosting a resource fair on Dec. 15 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 3275 Sullivant Ave.