County sets new meeting rules

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beginning May 1, there will be a new way the Covington County Com-mission conducts its bi-monthly meetings.

Com-missioners Tuesday adopted a set of rules of procedures for its meetings in order to “better facilitate county business,” the group said.

“At the last meeting, the decision was made to come up with rules for the meeting if you wanted to say something,” Commissioner 1 David Ellis said. “So, we decided to do that. If the new administration wants to throw these out the door, that’s OK. These are to give the people a chance to speak.”

When commissioners met earlier this month, public comments were not allowed following a decision to give employment contracts with County Administrator Brenda Petty and County Engineer Darren Capps. Comments from Probate Judge Ben Bowden were not allowed either. The new rules change that – to an extent.

The general public will not be allowed to address the commission after action is taken on a matter. Instead, the new agenda allows for a person to speak if placed on the agenda by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday immediately preceding each meeting. Requests should be given to the county administrator and state the purpose of the request. It does not state those requests must be made in writing.

“The commission recognizes the importance of allowing citizens, including other elected officials, to express their opinions on the operation of county government and encourage public participation in the local government process,” the rules stated. “(However)…

Comments should be made in a decorous manner and within the designated time limit. Failure to do so will mean being barred from making future comments.”

Comments are limited to three speakers on the same comment.

It also allows for public comments by other elected officials.

The rules do not allow for debate or action by the commission during either section.

The new rules do allow for the structure of the meeting to change – including the number and duration of speakers; however, it must be voted on by commissioners.

Additionally, only the chairman, commissioners, county administrator, engineer or attorney may request an addition to the agenda so the matter can be given immediate attention.

“This is subject to change by the chairman, provided no objections by commissioners,” the rules state. “If objections are heard, a vote is needed to establish new guidelines for the current meeting only.”

Those wanting to make immediate comments about the day’s meeting can submit written comments to commissioners immediately following the meeting.

There is also a section that outlines rules for recording the meeting.

The commission meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m., unless the date is a county holiday, in which case, the meeting is generally held on the following Tuesday.

Meeting agendas are made public around noon on the Friday before the meeting.

For more information on being placed on the agenda, call 334-428-2610.