|Cotati’s CEC on hiatus; ad-hoc volunteers are in
Declining number of commission members and rough economy prompt city to make changes in structure
The Cotati City Council voted at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14, to place its Community and Environment Commission (CEC) on hiatus.
The vote was unanimous, 4-0, with Councilwoman Susan Harvey absent because she was taking care of her new grandchild. Tuesday’s meeting also marked John Dell-Osso’s and Wendy Skillman’s first as mayor and vice-mayor of Cotati.
In the CEC’s place, the city plans, will be one or more ad-hoc volunteer groups to handle the tasks performed by the CEC. The CEC is a nine-member commission and provides an outlet for Cotati residents to help the community through volunteerism.
Its official objectives are to advise the city council in: fostering community participation through production of community events and projects; public recreation and entertainment; planning, development and management and care of city parks through citizen participation; and matters affecting the environment in general, and promotion of sustainable practices through education, programs, events and projects.
During the economic recession of the past few years, CEC activities, and more importantly, membership has declined. There are only two standing members whose terms expire this year. The core events for the CEC, with a limited budget of $3,000, are the Cotati Tree Lighting and the Bingo Pasta Feed. Actually, the last CEC-produced event was the 2012 Cotati Tree Lighting.
According to a city staff report, city staff has taken on more CEC duties pertaining to city events.
“Just having worked on CEC, that’s actually how I started in the community, it was challenging and there were only five or six of us,”
Councilwoman Wendy Skillman said. “It’s also very difficult when people are working full time. It has to be restructured.”
The city believes the desire for citizens to participate in Cotati events and projects still exists but the structure of a formal appointed committee did not work well for coordination of events and volunteer participation.
“Volunteers will still be involved, but coming to the regular meetings is what gets a bit cumbersome for people,” Mayor John Dell’Osso said.
The city may decide to re-establish the CEC or restructure it to fit Cotati’s needs.