Keep public notices in the public’s eye

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

There’s a movement afoot to take public notices away from the people who need to read them – the public.

We’re still trying to figure out the logic behind this effort.

Municipal and county governments statewide are legally required to publish such notices in newspapers of “general circulation” in their respective areas. It’s no guarded secret that newspapers across this state and nation gain a portion of their annual revenue from printing public notices.

While this newspaper welcomes such advertising, especially in these tough economic times, this issue is more far-reaching than assisting the bottom line of our financial spreadsheet.

Public notices are a healthy sign of fair and open government; they inform the citizens of impending issues within local government, whether that be as simple as announcing a special called board meeting or something as major as rezoning, property taxes or industrial development.

Some within the NC House of Representatives want to do away with public notices in newspapers. Instead, they want to post them on some obscure web site and are attempting to approve legislation to do so.

Basically, what they want is for the public to go hunt for public notices. That should be the other way around. Government should serve the people, not make them go hunt for notices on an obscure web site – when many people don’t even own computers or have no access.

We implore the citizens of the Roanoke-Chowan area to contact their State House representatives and urge them to keep public notices in the exact place where they gain the most attention – in newspapers!