Wayne County Commissioners will consider meeting change
By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 24, 2012 1:46 PM
Wayne County's new Republican-controlled Board of Commissioners appears ready to make good on a second change concerning its meetings.
Commissioners have already agreed to give speakers during the public comment portion of their meetings more time to talk and did away with the limitation that they could only speak once a month.
Now, it appears commissioners might start holding at least one of their two monthly sessions at night.
Commissioners rescheduled their first meeting of the new year from Jan. 1 until Jan. 8 because of the holiday. When the proposal was discussed, Commissioner Joe Daughtery brought up the idea of night meetings. Commissioners had previously considered holding at least one meeting a month at night to encourage more county residents to attend.
"Where one of those meeting times would be in the morning, the first meeting of each month, and the second meeting of each month be in the evening," Daughtery said. "I have had several people who have indicated they are just not available to come to the meetings in the morning during working hours and would like to participate.
"I think that might be something we might want to consider at this time or some future time. But since we are bringing up the board meeting changes, it might be appropriate to discuss that at this time."
Board Chairman Steve Keen asked Daughtery if he was asking to discuss the issue "now" or to place it on the agenda to discuss.
"I don't necessarily know if we need to put it on the agenda, but I probably will be making a motion at that time," Daughtery said. "We can table it for further discussion at a later time, but it will at least get on."
Daughtery said he would probably amend any motion to reschedule the January meeting to include changing future meeting times.
Commissioner John Bell, the board's only Democrat, said that the board needed to consider the fact that switching to evening meetings would eliminate live radio broadcasts because of the radio station's other obligations.
"Before we make a motion like that we need to check all of that out, if you want it broadcast," Bell said.
Commissioner Ray Mayo reminded the board that he was the one who originally brought up the possibility several months ago of changing meeting times.
"My personal feeling is that the process of transition of a new board, and all the things that we have at this time that is going on, I would recommend that we wait a month or so and take a look at it at that time," Mayo said. "There is a major shifting of everything when we go from, say, morning to evening.
"There is a lot involved, and we want to have everything recorded. We need to go through some legwork. Ask the questions before we decide."
Commissioner Bill Pate said he was hoping that the evening meetings would still be held in the commissioners' boardroom and "not move it around the county."
Keen asked County Manager Lee Smith if he had any ideas.
Smith said that he and Marcia Wilson, clerk to the board, would look at the calendar to see how such a change might work.
Also, Smith said he would like to ask the radio station if the night meetings could be recorded for later broadcast.
The county is adding equipment to its television department with a goal of being able to stream meetings on the Internet. It is possible meetings could be broadcast live, too, he said.
Smith said he and his staff would look at the issue and bring information back to the board by mid-January including the "pros and cons."
"Mr. Chairman, I will not make that motion and ask that a report be drawn up by the county manager and report back to us," Daughtery said. "That way we will have more information to make a decision."