With a 2-0 vote earlier this year, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners agreed to hire a consultant to monitor meetings and hearings related to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, "and provide coordinated information to Klickitat County."
The consultant is David Sauter, a Lyle resident.
"He's a liaison, or the eyes and ears of the county, to sit in on Gorge Commission meetings like the Management Plan review," Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck said last week. "Our Planning Department is spread so thin, we couldn't free up a planner. He's keeping us abreast of how the Plan Review is going, and what topics are key in meetings."
Sauter is being paid $20 per hour for his services, with the agreement stipulating that the cost for his services and his reimbursable expenses are not to exceed $15,000 over the course of the contract.
Struck added that the $20 figure is "the low end of the scale for consultants."
According to the contract agreement, Sauter's task is four-fold:
1) To review written materials -- correspondence, staff reports, news releases, decision documents, memoranda of understanding or agreement, and technical reports. He is also expected to attend meetings, hearings, and workshops related to the Scenic Area;
2) To monitor agency activities. Specified for monitoring are the Columbia River Gorge Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, the Scenic Area offices, Friends of the Gorge for the Columbia River counties of Multnomah, Clark, Hood River, Skamania, and Wasco counties, and other state or private agencies of sub-agencies that exercise decision making in the Scenic Area or interact or lobby decision-making entities;
3) Provide monthly written reports summarizing activities, separately and/or collectively, to the Board of County Commissioners, the county's Planning Department and Building Department, the Resource Development Department, and the Prosecuting Attorney;
4) Consultant is to be considered an observer and reporter only and is not authorized to speak on behalf of the county at Gorge hearings.
Struck said Sauter takes notes and reports back to the county once a month.
"We felt he was the best one to perform the task," Struck added. "He has an interest, and some prior knowledge, and he is a pretty low-key individual. We didn't want a controversial individual."
The contract went into effect on March 1, and is designed to run through Dec. 31, 2001.