Ordinance amendment intended to avoid open meeting violations
BY KEVIN BONESKE
To prevent possible open meeting violations related to having too vague of a meeting agenda, Oneida County’s Administration and Labor Relations/Employee Services committees recommended an ordinance amendment Monday for consideration by the full County Board.
“Our current county code talks about agendas for County Board meetings and includes some language that’s not appropriate,” said County Board chairman Dave Hintz. “I believe it includes like ‘unfinished business’…which we all know those sorts of terms – unfinished business – are just too broad to give the public an idea of what will be discussed. To avoid that, we’d like to amend the county code to be updated to put the agendas at the responsibility really of the chairperson to develop.”
The language in the ordinance amendment calls for the order of business to be at the discretion of the County Board chairperson and removes 12 items previously required, which have included: call to order; roll call; announcements by the chair, correspondence and communication; accept minutes of previous county board meeting(s); reports; unfinished business; public comment; consent agenda; consideration of resolutions and ordinances; other business; next meeting date and time; and adjournment.
“The committee chairs are responsible for their agendas,” said committee member Ted Cushing. “The board chair is responsible for the board agenda. I think it’s a good way to do it. And if you screw up, guess what? (A fine of) $25.”
Committee member Robb Jensen spoke in favor of having a “general template” for putting together a meeting agenda.
“There can be a general template for County Board meetings, of which if we don’t have any reports, you don’t include them,” Jensen said. “But here’s the format that needs to be followed…. I still think we need to work on building a template for committees of jurisdiction.”
“And I agree and we’re doing that, so that’s appropriate,” Hintz said in response. “This takes away the details of the meeting and puts it at the discretion of the chair.
“I think some of these things, maybe when they were added were not, to use a strong word, illegal or inappropriate. As laws change, they became inappropriate. They may have even been inappropriate when this resolution, ordinance was originally passed.”
Committee member Bob Mott suggested removing parts of the required order of business found to be inappropriate and add the template favored by Jensen.
County corporation counsel Brian Desmond said the county could create a policy outside of the ordinance to provide direction for putting together an agenda.