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Citizens to get answers

Donna
Fore

Citizens’ quests for transparency and a more open local government have now led the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to enact a public comment policy that will include citizens receiving answers to their questions.

The BOS unanimously voted during its Nov. 13 meeting to add a section on the public comment signup sheet indicating that answers to questions would be provided if citizens left their contact information with staff at the administration office.

In February 2017, the BOS approved a public comment policy that allowed citizens to address the Board with their thoughts, concerns and at time questions.

However, at times, those questions have gone unanswered, and citizens were still left wondering.

“When a citizen asks a question, it should be answered,” said Phenix/Aspen Supervisor, Donna Fore.

Wylliesbug/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni echoed Fore’s comments saying, “When they (citizens) ask specific questions, we absolutely need to give them answers back.”

Who is our boss?” asked Pierantoni. “It’s the citizens, and in all my years of working with people, if a boss asked me a question, I couldn’t say well that’s irrelevant or ignore the questions.”

Pierantoni continued to say that she appreciated the fact that citizens addressed the Board with their comments.

“No. 1, I so appreciate the citizens that come and ask questions and give us their thoughts. That’s how we learned what we should be doing for them.” Pierantoni said.

Supervisor Gary Walker who represents the County Seat District suggested that a disclaimer or information be placed on the public comment signup sheet and an indication be given so that citizens can leave their contact information on how they would like to receive the answers to their questions.

What’s the mechanics of that?” asked Fore. “So, if someone leaves their information who answers the question, how is this going to be implemented?”

County Administrator Daniel Witt replied, “I would answer the question via the way that it was given to me,” he said, explaining that it would be a typed letter mailed if a mailing address was given or via email if an email address was given.”

Section five of the public comment policy now reads, “The public comment period is not a question and answer section and does not require the Board to answer a speaker. However, any speaker who wishes to request a board member respond at a later date should provide the clerk of the Board with appropriate contact information.”

The BOS public comment policy can be viewed in its entirety on the county website at www.charlotteva. com/bos_meetings. htm.