Cottage Grove charter commission gets members -- but little early directionA Washington County judge has named the members of a commission that will lead the creation a city charter that could go before Cottage Grove voters.
A Washington County judge has named the members of a commission that will lead the creation a city charter that may go before Cottage Grove voters.
Washington County Judge John C. Hoffman recently appointed 15 local residents to a Cottage Grove charter commission. The group, identified in a letter to the city clerk, will now be expected to meet and consider the creation of a charter for the city.
A charter essentially is a local constitution that could place stricter controls on things like city spending and borrowing.
A group opposed to the City Council’s decision to move forward with a $16 million project to construct a new city hall and public safety facility gathered more than 1,600 signatures last year to trigger creation of the commission.
The commission could create a charter that would go before voters for approval. It could also elect to leave the city’s governance structure, currently based on state statute — like a majority of cities in the state — alone.
Among the list of residents appointed to the commission are two whose names were submitted by the group Cottage Grove Citizens’ Voice, which is pushing for the charter process. Five people who directly applied to the judge were selected. Eight people were chosen from a list of applicants forwarded to the judge by the council.
The list includes a number of current and former city advisory commission members.
Mayor Myron Bailey has said he doesn’t believe the city needs a commission but asserts the city won’t prevent the charter process from moving forward. Bailey said he believes the judge’s appointments include supporters and opponents of a charter.
“It’s a good mix of diverse backgrounds,” he said.
Appointed commission members are:
-- Tony Jurgens, a Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority member
-- Michael Edman, a Cottage Grove Public Works commission member
-- Marie Skinner, attorney
-- William Spencer, retired
-- Matthew Porett, former chair of the Cottage Grove Environmental Commission
-- Karla Bigham, former state House member and Environmental Commission vice-chair
-- Peter Staloch, information systems analyst
-- Chris Reese, Planning Commission member
-- David Olson, Environmental Commission member
-- Jeff Podoll, Public Works commission member
-- Craig Patterson, EDA member
-- Dale Andrews, information technology specialist
-- Annie Elmer, personal trainer
-- Patrick McLoughlin, former Environmental Commission vice-chair; cultural resources specialist
-- Ken Brittain, Planning Commission member
City officials won’t play a leading role — or much of a role at all — in the commission’s activities, said City Administrator Ryan Schroeder.
When the group will meet, where the group will meet and who will call the meeting are unclear, he said. The city’s attorney is reviewing what the commission’s next steps are.
“This is a distinct, separate entity. It’s not a commission of the city,” Schroeder said. “So we really don’t have any direct involvement. If the group, once it gets together, wants to use city facilities as a meeting location we’ll provide that opportunity.”
Jurgens said Hoffman’s office planned to send a letter offering the appointment to each of the 15 members. The appointees will need to sign and return the letter to Hoffman’s office. Jurgens said it still will be up to the appointed commission members to organize their meetings and activity.