New Smyrna Beach Considers Advisory Board Changes

New Smyrna Beach Looks at Advisory Board Changes

The New Smyrna Beach City Commission values the time and energy residents serving on advisory boards spend helping the city. But it also wants to ensure that time is well spent and those efforts do not go unnoticed.

At a two-hour workshop earlier this month, commissioners discussed ways to improve the structure and efficiency of the city’s 19 task forces and advisory boards.

City Clerk Kelly McQuillen opened the workshop with a presentation detailing how the various citizen boards are organized, qualifications for serving, terms and meeting frequency. She explained the different ways the boards are structured and how they differ in function.

“In looking at all of these boards, our volunteers are enthusiastic citizens,” she said.

McQuillen said a concern with the different bodies is frequency of meetings.

“A recurring problem is meeting too frequently,” she said. “When you have too many boards and they meet more than reasonably required, with repeated presentations, disinterested members cause high turnover.”

McQuillen proposed creation of an onboarding process for residents serving on advisory bodies that includes a guidebook outlining the duties and responsibilities of serving.

“I feel it is imperative to establish a sound structure within our boards,” she said. “I believe it will greatly assist all involved.”

Vice Mayor Valli Perrine, a driving force behind looking at the advisory board structure in the city, said she was motivated to bring the issue up from her time serving on the Economic Development Advisory Board, beginning with the reasoning behind changing that body from an advisory board to a task force.

Commissioner Randy Hartman said his recollection of the matter is that it was something the city’s former mayor wanted to do.

“I think there was a misunderstanding how it was set up and who was taking the lead on that,” he said.

Commissioner Jason McGuirk confirmed Hartman’s contention on the changes.

“The idea behind moving certain boards to be a task force was when something came up, when something needed to be dealt with, that would land on the table of the task force,” he said.

McGuirk said the Economic Development Advisory Board came about in the aftermath of the Great Recession “when there was no economic development in New Smyrna Beach or anywhere.”

Perrine said one of her main goals in reexamining the city’s advisory bodies is to ensure better communication, better guidelines and consistent follow-up with what the various entities have accomplished.

“I want to make this board recognize the boards that we have and help them tweak those so we can actually see the accomplishments,” she said.

City Manager Khalid Resheidat said the most important issue for him is to set goals for the advisory bodies.

“My suggestion would be, I would go to the boards, with the staff we have, have a workshop with the boards, set the goals and priorities and bring them back to the commission and get the blessing from the commission and then you can plan how to accomplish this,” he said. “The most important thing is to have a workshop with the boards.”

In the end, commissioners agreed to the idea put forward by Resheidat and the process will move forward from there.