Opponents of the Methow Aquatics District Proposition 1 have pointed out that the ballot language for the proposal differs from the description in a Methow Valley News article in the Oct. 18 issue.
That article reported that the aquatics district, if approved, would be governed by a five-member board of commissioners, comprised of one Twisp Town Council member, one Winthrop Town Council member, and the Okanogan County commissioner representing the Methow Valley.
Two at-large members who live within the school district boundaries would be appointed by the Twisp and Winthrop town councils. The towns and county would enter into an interlocal agreement for governance of the aquatics district, which would have the same boundaries as the Methow Valley School District, the paper reported.
The ballot language reads: “The district would be governed by a five-member board appointed by the Okanogan County Commission and the Twisp and Winthrop Town Councils as provided by interlocal agreement approved by the three jurisdictions.”
An interlocal agreement, however, would not be completed until after the district is created, and therefore the specifics of the agreement and the membership of the district’s governing board are not yet determined, said Justin Porter, who leads the Friends of the Pool task force on the aquatics district. “An agreement can’t be approved until the district is formed,” he acknowledged.
“In effect, all five commissioners could be town councilmen, or none of the commissioners could be town councilmen. The make-up of the district commission is entirely dependent on the interlocal agreement, which doesn’t yet exist,” said Dave Hopkins in an email to the Methow Valley News.
Opponents of Proposition 1 have questioned whether the commissioners of the district would be accountable to voters if they are not directly elected to the board.
State law governing metropolitan park districts (chapter 35.61 RCW), the type chosen for the proposed aquatics district, provides different approaches to establishing a board of commissioners. Proponents of the aquatics district have supported an approach described in the law that would include elected representatives from jurisdictions within the aquatics district on the governing board, Porter said.
The language of that approach in 35.61 RCW states: “Where the proposed district is located within more than one city, more than one county, or any combination of cities and counties, each city governing body and county legislative authority may be designated to collectively serve ex officio as the board of metropolitan park commissioners through selection of one or more members from each to serve as the board, provided that when creation of the district is proposed by citizen petition, each city governing body and county legislative authority approve by resolution such designation.
“Within six months of the date of certification of election results approving creation of the district, the size and membership of the board shall be determined through interlocal agreement of each city and county. The interlocal agreement shall specify the method for filling vacancies on the board.”