A decision about whether to change the makeup of the C-Tran Board of Directors will be delayed until a separate decision is made on a corresponding legal issue.
On Thursday, after some debate, the 10-member C-Tran Board Composition Review Committee opted to approve a motion to postpone making any changes to the C-Tran Board until a Clark County Superior Court judge makes a ruling on the legalities surrounding bloc veto power held by Clark County and Vancouver.
“I think it would be premature for us to change the makeup until we get clarification,” said Clark County Commissioner David Madore.
Currently, the 9-member C-Tran Board has three representatives each from the Clark County Commission and the Vancouver City Council, and one each from paired cities and towns: La Center/Ridgefield, Washougal/Camas and Battle Ground/Yacolt.
Bloc veto power gives Clark County and the City of Vancouver the ability to reverse any decision made by the rest of the C-Tran Board.
C-Tran legal counsel Tom Wolfendale contends that if there is any numeric change in the number of representatives from Vancouver and/or Clark County the bloc veto would be void and unenforceable. Two other attorneys have issued two additional, and differing, opinions as well.
The C-Tran Board voted last month to have the controversial issue decided by a judge.
Since the Composition Review Committee began meeting monthly in June, the mayors of Camas and Washougal have been advocating for each of their cities to have an individual seat and voice on the C-Tran Board.
During the most recent review committee meeting, however, both men agreed that waiting for the declaratory judgement is the best course of action.
“Until we really know where this thing is going to settle out, are we really just setting ourselves up to make, I don’t want to say mistakes but things we could avoid if waited on?” questioned Washougal Mayor Sean Guard. “This body gets together every four years. I don’t have a problem waiting three or four more months to have this thing finished out.”
Commissioner Tom Mielke voiced support for moving forward with a vote on a new C-Tran Board composition right away. Camas Mayor Scott Higgins suggested that might not be the best course of action.
“I could vote now and be confident, or close to confident, that we did the right thing,” he told Mielke. “But I think it’s best that we have one more piece of information so that I know for sure. I understand what you are saying, but I am perfectly content on hanging all of my actions on whatever comes from that judgement at that time.”
A majority vote of the Composition Review Committee, which is made up of all three Clark County Commissioners and one elected representative from each city/town within C-Tran boundaries, would be needed to make any changes to its structure. A subsequent vote of the C-Tran Board would not be required.
The Composition Review Committee meets every four years. The last time a change was made to the makeup of the C-Tran Board was in 1998.
“We do this every four years,” Higgins said. “Let’s get it right.”