A new item has been added to the Camden County Commission's meeting agendas. The first item of business on every meeting is now a public comment period. If residents attend and want to voice a concern to the commission on the record, that is their chance.
"This was something that I was asked about by a group of citizens, and I did not have a good reason why we did not provide time for public comment other than it had never been done before, and it was not statutorily required," Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken said of the new addition.
Franken added that the commission has always had an 'open door policy' during all their meetings, but now it is an official agenda item.
"This formal period will only be on the days that we actually conduct business meetings, but as it has always been, citizens can come in any time to voice their concerns to the Commission," Franken said. "We are going to hold comment to 3 minutes unless there is additional questions from the Commission to the person making their comments. Anyone is welcome to make comments so long as it is done respectfully and within the reasonable confines of standard meeting procedures."
Franken said that the new agenda item is not to deter residents from coming in and speaking to their commissioners outside of the commission meetings.
"People come in very regularly to visit with the Commission, and the only difference that I can see with the comments being made during the meeting is that the comments will be on the official record of the county, where the casual meetings with citizens that we currently have, while still just as important to us, are not a part of the official record," Franken said. "I know that this is something that has been abused in other parts of the state and in some instances it has been discontinued, but I think it is worthwhile to give it a try as long as comments and demeanor remain respectful."
Agendas for Camden County Commission meetings can be found on a bulletin board in the County Commission office and in the front lobby of the courthouse 24 hours before the meeting. As a public service, the Lake Sun will post meeting times and agenda items that require voting action on www.lakenewsonline.com as soon as the agendas are sent in to the newsroom.