The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors took its first look in perhaps a generation at how its municipal advisory councils operate.
The board didn't make any final decisions at Tuesday's meeting, but Deputy County Counsel Mark Myles will return with a document with possible rules and regulations for all six of the MACs.
The councils, most of which were formed in the 1980s to advise the Board of Supervisors on community issues, have bare-bones guidelines. They were formed to give residents outside the seven cities in San Joaquin County a voice regarding issues unique to that community. After the MAC votes to take a position on an issue, the vote is forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.
The county has municipal advisory councils in Woodbridge, Lockeford, Morada, Thornton, Linden and French Camp.
"Each MAC has developed its own culture," Myles told the board on Tuesday. "There needs to be some kind of uniform method."
County Supervisor Ken Vogel said he sometimes recommends issues for MACs to review at a public meeting. For example, Vogel said he recommended that the Lockeford council have a community discussion of how to improve the look of the downtown area on Highway 88. He's also suggested that Lockeford and Woodbridge discuss the idea of expanding business enterprise zones into their communities.
One decision facing the Board of Supervisors is to determine whether seats on the seven-member MACs will become appointed board positions rather than be on the election ballot.
Council elections are held during the November general election during even-numbered years, but frequently, there aren't enough candidates for each seat that is up for election.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in French Camp, where six of its seven council seats are vacant.
Many MAC members resign their positions in the middle of their four-year terms. The most recent resignations were in Woodbridge, where three council members stepped down in March.
Because the seats are elected positions, the county Registrar of Voters absorbs the election cost of $3 per registered voter within the community, Myles said. Registered voters range from 2,000 in some communities to 500 to 600 in Thornton, he added. MAC elections may cost taxpayers up to $25,000, Myles said.
Vogel said he doesn't care whether MAC members are elected or appointed, but he wants his fellow supervisors to realize that it costs money to conduct elections.
Vogel and Supervisor Leroy Ornellas said they are concerned that MAC appointments may become political.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.