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The key word for city committees is ‘advisory’

March 17, 2012
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The vote was divided but Cape Coral City Council this week disbanded its Financial Advisory Committee and reestablished a budget review committee to provide the elected board with insight into financial matters.

Council, re-configured by the voters in November, has been sharply criticized for the action, primarily by those who lost the election and their supporters.

Some of that criticism is on point: "politics" - or differing political philosophy at any rate - was a spurring influence behind the decision.

However, much of the critical meander misses the mark - which is that the FAC, and indeed all of the city's council-appointed advisory boards, commissions and panels that are not charter mandated serve at the pleasure of the elected board.

Council can accept, reject or modify any recommendations brought forth, which is as it should be because council - and only council - is accountable to the voters.

The volunteers who step forward to serve on the city's variety of panels are accountable only to the council that appoints them.

Simply put, they are just a part of a process that also typically includes citizen input, public hearings, staff recommendations, council debate and, ultimately, a formal vote by the elected board.

That is why we reject arguments that say the Cape's plethora of citizen boards provide "transparency" or even that they have a "watchdog role" in city government.

They do not.

Advisory board members instead provide additional citizen input and, hopefully, lend professional expertise to the tasks to which they have been assigned.

This is a good thing, and we applaud both the concept of citizen boards and those who step forward to serve.

We urge those who have interest in the city's budget and related financial matters to not hesitate to volunteer on the soon-to-be Budget Advisory Committee. That includes members of the now-disbanded FAC.

Just remember two things.

One, the name delineates the role, which is advisory.

And two, any work product brought forth will be, at most, a recommendation that will be subject to additional input and council debate.

That's simply how the process is designed to work.

- Breeze editorial



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