Public comment changes suggested
Published 10:58 am Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Changes to the Board of Supervisors public comment period were suggested by citizens following a January meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors.
“I would like to address the policy for public comment,” said Aspen District Resident Kathy Liston during the meeting. “The very first policy, which was adopted in Feb. of 2017, limits speakers to people who pay personal or real estate taxes in Charlotte County or maintain a residence in Charlotte County.”
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Liston said she took an issue during the September meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors when the Board allowed the CEO of SolUnesco, Francis Hodsoll, to speak during public comment.
“I would like to see that amended to anyone who wishes to speak on an issue relevant to Charlotte County. I think that people should be allowed to speak and there are people who are not residents as that gentleman was, but who have something that was relevant to the County,” said Liston.
She said she would like to see the policy changed to adopt that amendment.
Additionally, Liston said she would also like to see a second public comment period held at the end during the monthly meetings.
She said sometimes individual issues raised at the meetings may raise questions for public comment.
“ …You don’t know ahead of time until you hear it stated, and rather than have it be another whole month to another meeting … it’s a done deal, people have forgotten it …” said Liston.
She said she has seen a public comment period at the end of the monthly Supervisors meetings done in other counties and is very productive.
“I see a lot of changes have been made…” said Liston.
She said the minutes for the meetings have been improved greatly and business is conducted in a more transparent matter.
“I think this is a very positive thing and I would like to see this continue,” said Liston.
County Resident Larry Clark said during the public comment period if a person from the public attends the meeting and have questions for the Board, it does not get answered during the meeting.
“ …If it’s something that can be answered I think it should be answered, because why should we come up here and say something if you’re not going to respond to us or do anything about it as far as give a person any satisfaction for speaking,” said Clark.
According to the current public comment policy for the Supervisors regarding board meetings, effective Feb. 2017, members of the Board are not required to answer a speaker.
The policy said, “however, any speaker who wishes to request a Board Member respond at a later date should provide the clerk to the Board with appropriate contact information.”
In addition, the policy said no speaker may speak for more than three minutes and comments must focus on matters relevant to county business.
Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said she hoped the Supervisors responding to public comments was something the Board would look at.
“We have these comments at the end, I think the public who we work for … should have a public comment period at the end …” she said.
Red House/Cullen Supervisor Nancy Carwile said she agreed with the statements about public comment, however, the idea of the public comment she dislikes.
“I do not like it and I’ll tell you why,” she said.
Carwile said in her district, individuals do not participate in public comment because they call her.
She said if the individual has a presentation or longer speech she calls the Chairman of the Supervisors to get the citizen placed on the agenda.