Board weighs more public input

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors could soon add an additional public comment period at the end of monthly meetings.

According to Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore, “it’s my observation … normally at the end of a meeting, the public is allowed to make a final comment period, obviously restricted to three minutes, but they are allowed to come back at us with comments and perspective on things they heard today.”

Donna Fore

She said sometimes the public has not heard the complete discussion and may wish to comment after.

Currently, citizens are allowed three minutes at the beginning of each monthly Supervisor’s meeting to address the Board and public.

Sign-ups are required for the current public comment period.

“I think out of fairness to the public, they ought to have an opportunity at the end of the meetings to have at least three minutes per person to make additional comments on what they’ve heard that day . . .,” Fore said.

She suggested a resolution be introduced to reflect an additional public comment period at the end of the meeting.

Fore said the additional public comment session would require no signups.

“It’s a common practice I’ve seen in other counties. It works well. I think it involves the public more and they have a chance to give us perspective on things they’ve heard that day, not come back a month later …,” she said.

Fore said it would give citizens a chance to voice their opinions that day and be included in the meetings more. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I don’t see a downside to it.”

Chairman of the Supervisors Gary Walker said he was caught off guard by the suggestion. “Would you mind if we voted on that next month?” he said.

“As long as it’s on the agenda,” said Fore.

Additionally, Red House/Cullen Supervisor Nancy Carwile said she would like to add an optional column on the public comment sign up sheet to state whether the matter has been discussed with a Supervisor or staff member.

“We put the public comment in, but what we didn’t realize is we’re training people to come to the meetings to talk to all of us . . .,” said Carwile.

She said she would like to hear from those in her district. “A lot of time people come because they don’t know,” said Carwile.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said the Supervisors work for the people, but sometimes an individual may feel more comfortable speaking to the entire Board.

She said she did not want to impede the ability of the citizens to speak in any way.

“That’s right,” said Carwile. “That’s why I said it should be optional. She said there could be a variety of reasons why an individual may not specifically want to address their local representative on the Board.

The matter has been tabled until the April meeting of the Supervisors.