By Tia Lynn Ivey
Local elected officials hold regular public meetings to give constituents a chance to have a voice in the crafting of public policy and happenings of local matters. However, some are concerned that the times of these public meetings are not conducive to most people’s work schedules.
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners BOC) is considering changing the time of one of their monthly public meetings in hopes that more citizens will be able to attend.
Commissioner Chairman Ron Milton asked the rest of the county commissioners to consider moving their monthly night meeting, held the third Tuesday of each month, to 7 p.m–two hours later than its current time of 5 p.m.
Milton has heard comments from citizens mentioning that they are just getting off work when the meeting starts and do not feel like they have the ability to attend.
“I have had a couple comments recently if we could possibly change one of our meeting times a little later,” said Milton.
Commissioner Ben Riden also received comments from constituents inquiring about changing the meeting time. Commissioner Andy Ainslie noted that the 5 p.m. meeting was held at 7 p.m. in the past and was shifted to an earlier time due to a lack of attendance from members of the public.
“For years and years we met at 7 p.m. and the reason we moved it was because we didn’t have enough people participating.” According to Ainslie, the BOC moved their meetings to 5 p.m. in hopes that people could come right after work and county staff wouldn’t have to stay as late. Ainslie noted that a meeting that begins at 7 p.m. at night could potentially last until to 10 p.m. at night.”
Commissioner Philip Von Hanstein suggested switching the time to 6 p.m. as a compromise to give citizens more time to arrive after getting off of work but would still allow the meeting to end earlier in the evening.
The board agreed to consider the possibility of changing the time and adding a formal label of a second monthly meeting rather than a work session.
The BOC intends to revisit the issue at the next regular meeting before voting on it.