The Union Recorder

January 17, 2013

First county work session proposal makes agenda

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Work sessions could be added to the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners monthly schedule. Pending regular meeting approval, the first called session is tentatively scheduled Thursday, Jan. 31.

Commissioners Tommy French (District 2) and Johnny Westmoreland (District 5) were appointed by commission chair Sammy Hall (District 3) to research the notion after the first monthly gathering last Wednesday. Staff collected information about other counties' work session protocol.

Both assigned commissioners and staff met Thursday to brainstorm the right course of action. 

County attorney David McRee said the board has flexibility with the setup. The commission can establish any structure or conduct code particular to the work session.

McRee suggested establishing a trial run before making any changes to the code of ordinances.

When county manager Ralph McMullen arrived 20 years ago, he said the commissioners had work sessions that morphed into various committee meetings.

Both commissioners agree that work sessions provide the board and the community with more time to hash things out.

County finance director Dawn Hudson said additional meetings are vital to public education. Instead of discussion behind county doors, the work sessions could help the community understand the issues.

McRee mentioned the commission could vote during a work session, as long as the meeting is established by the code of ordinances or called and posted effectively.

County representatives debated meeting procedures for public participation adopted by the previous board set at two minutes. This time limit applies to all open meetings.

McRee said the public comment portion would have to be amended or the commission would have to setup different rules for work sessions if it deemed more speaking time necessary.

Work session recommendations for every fourth Thursday around 6 p.m. are on Wednesday's regular meeting agenda. 

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