Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Order of BOCC agenda changing

Staff Writer | December 15, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The order of agenda is changing, said Bonner County Commissioner Luke Omodt at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

While public comment and the commissioner’s reports used to open the commissioners’ weekly meetings, they will now be placed at the end of the agenda to be more considerate of county employees’ time. Holding these portions of the meeting at the beginning of the meeting has caused department heads, or anyone waiting to present during the meeting, to wait upward of multiple hours to present their requests to commissioners.

That practice, Omodt said, was inconsiderate to the employees’ time. Staff should not be expected to waste time sitting in a meeting for hours only to present for a few minutes before being allowed to leave, he added.

“Authority of this board starts with statute,” Omodt said.

The chairman referenced sections of Robert’s Rules of Order as well as state statute in regards to the structure of a meeting agenda. No mention of the order was mentioned in either document that he read from.

“Idaho statute is silent on the matter of which the order of agenda is carried out,” he said. “There is no clear manner and so each deliberate body in each of the 44 counties gets to make that determination. It is not established in statute.”

Omodt said public commenters will be allowed to speak for no more than 10 minutes total. Additionally, commenters will only be allowed to comment twice, should they be granted more time. Time will not be allowed to be gifted to others, so not one person is able to talk for an indefinite period of time.

Omodt also said that comments need to be solely made about topics, not personalities that commenters disagree with.

“It’s a shame that the last 11 months, we’ve been brought to this point,” Commissioner Steve Bradshaw said. “The four years previous to this, we were pretty open, we had good conversations, we had good public comments. Things worked smoothly. That’s not the case the past 11 months. I don’t see where we have a lot of choice but to start becoming more formal.”

While the two present commissioners at the meeting did not vote on this matter, they both agreed that the public comment portion will become more rigid. That, Omodt said, will ensure the business meeting is being used for conducting county business and not for complaining about differing personalities in the county.

In addition, commissioners’ reports will now be rotated in the order commissioners speak in. While reports used to be given in the order of District 1, 2 then 3, they will now rotate in order each week. This change was approved following a comment by a county resident that it seemed the order of the reports allowed certain commissioners to “get the last word” in a discussion or argument each week.