05/05/13 — Board to have first evening meeting

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Board to have first evening meeting

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 5, 2013 1:50 AM

Wayne County commissioners will begin their three-month experiment with holding their first-of-the-month meetings in the evening on Tuesday.

Held on the first Tuesday of the month, the May 7, June 4 and July 2 sessions will begin with an agenda briefing at 3 p.m. followed by the meeting at 4 p.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Public comments will be at 6 p.m.

The second meeting of the month, on the third Tuesday, will continue to be held in the morning starting with the agenda briefing at 8 a.m. and the meeting at 9 a.m. Public comments are at 10 a.m.

That session also is held in the commissioners' meeting room.

The evening sessions, along with increasing how long and how often people could speak during the board's public comments section, were campaign linchpins for the board's Republican majority.

However, they appeared to back off somewhat when their April 2 vote was for evening meetings on a trial basis.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery made the motion to schedule evening meetings. However, Commissioner Ray Mayo, who had been an early proponent of the evening sessions, said he would like to see wording added that the meetings would be on a trial basis.

Chairman Steve Keen asked Mayo if he wanted to establish a time. Mayo said that he did not, but that he was unsure if the board wanted to present it as being a permanent change.

He then offered up an amendment to Daughtery's motion to make the change on a trial basis. Daughtery suggested 90 days. The amendment passed 6-1 as did Daughtery's original motion.

Commissioner John Bell voted against both.

The board also agreed to listen to public comments at 6 p.m. for the May 7 session.

At its April 16 meeting the board realized it had not addressed the public comments time for the other two evening sessions. Commissioners voted for those to be 6 p.m. as well.

Prior to the April 16 vote, Commissioner Bill Pate said someone had asked him about the time frame for the evening meetings.

"My response back was because our meetings have been lasting so long that if we were to start any later we wouldn't get out to midnight or later," he said.

Pate said he would like to see some flexibility until the time board gets caught up on its business and could possibly revisit the timing

Keen said he had been concerned that 6 p.m. would be too late until he thought about people not getting off of work until 4:30 or 5 p.m. and who would need the time to get to the meeting.

"I can respond to Mr. Pate," he said. "These meetings have been long because of the newness in coming onboard six months into a budget and getting a budget done for 13-14.

"There is a lot of work. The staff is working long hours, the county manager. Everyone is working long hours including us. But the trend is once the budget is over then we sort of step back and we watch the work in process."

Keen said he did not think the meetings would be as long after the board completed the budget and started the new fiscal year.