Transparency questions surround Washington fire board

Jul 10, 2014

The Washington Fire Board needs to consider allowing more public participation at its meetings. Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports that’s according to Washington Mayor Gary Manier: 

 The board’s received intense public criticism following a tense meeting surrounding Fire Chief Mike Vaughn’s contract. The meeting also began with a board member asking the public to leave stating it is a private, non-profit body. The public was allowed to stay after residents demanded to hear the board discuss the contract. Under Open meetings act guidelines, the contract discussion should be done in closed session, the vote on it though, in public. Mayor Manier says the board could consider changing how it does business:

 “When this new board’s seated, they probably need to take a look at changing and allowing public comments if nothing else and some time for the public to be at their meetings,” Manier says.

 “As far as personnel issues, they probably still will have to go behind closed doors to discuss that and that’s just the nature of the beast.”

 The five-member board has two members because of expired terms and a resignation this week. Manier says he hopes to have the city council consider approving an appointment to the fire board next week. The city’s first full-time fire chief is set to keep his job another three years as of August 1st, unless the fire board meets and votes to cease his contract.