Monday, August 24, 2009

Oconee BOC Agenda Has New Opportunities For Speaking

Citizens Get Uprade

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners meeting will have a different feel tomorrow night, courtesy of the just-passed ordinance resetting the county’s organizational structure.

At the top of the agenda will be "Statements and Remarks from Commissioners," an item completely new to Oconee BOC meeting agendas.

Following this will be an opportunity for citizens to make statements. This is usually the final item on the agenda–just ahead of adjournment to executive session or of the meeting entirely.

Tomorrow night’s meeting is an agenda-setting session, when the board will agree on the agenda for its regular session on Sept. 1. Citizens will now have a chance to suggest items for that agenda before the agenda actually is set, rather than after it is set, as in the past.

The ordinance passed at the Aug. 4 meeting reorganizing the way the board interacts with key county administrators and BOC Chairman Melvin Davis included a new Rules of Order. One of those rules stated that "There shall be an agenda item on each agenda providing Commissioners the opportunity to speak at the beginning of the meeting."

The Rules of Order also stated that each agenda shall contain an item allowing the public to comment, but that has been procedure in the past.

The Rules do not state where this opportunities to speak shall be on the agenda, but citizens complained during the public hearings on the ordinance that they had been forced to wait until the end of the meeting, when commissioners are tired and ready to end the session.

County Clerk Gina Lindsey distributed the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting on Friday, and I sent her an email message over the weekend asking her at whose initiative the changes had been made.

"The order of items on the BOC agenda have been changed according to the Rules of Order adopted by the Board," she wrote me in an email message today.

The actual first item on the agenda tomorrow night is the agenda itself.

After the comments from the Commissioners and from the citizens, the board will be asked to approve the 2009 tax millage levy for Oconee County Schools and then the levy for the county government itself.

The board also will discuss a jail reimbursement fee agreement with Fulton County–Oconee County has excess capacity at its new jail–and get an update on the proposed widening of Mars Hill Road.

The board will discuss proposals for right of way purchases for the road. Money for construction has not yet been made available by the state.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Watkinsville.

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