Meeting schedule changes

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AHOSKIE – Hoping for more citizen attendance as well as input and involvement, the Ahoskie Town Council has approved changing their meeting schedule for the rest of 2015 beginning in July.

The idea was broached earlier by Councilman Maurice Vann of holding the Council meetings on a different day or a different time.

Town Manager Tony Hammond researched whether Council could make the change and reported that no public hearing would be necessary.

“There’s nothing in writing that says you cannot do this,” Hammond reported. “All it says is that if you do adopt a new schedule you have to advertise it and it has to be on file in the (Town) Clerk’s office.  If it is done then prepare a new set of dates, bring it before Council so it can be adopted and then posted.”

Councilwoman Linda Blackburn began discussion inquiring about night meetings and scheduling more than a single meeting per month.  Hammond said there was a precedent for slating some meetings during the evening hours.

“I just think nights would be better because then people who work can get there,” Blackburn reasoned.

Councilman Rev. C. David Stackhouse reminded his fellow Council members of alternating evening and morning meetings by month.

“I think there was some discussion that the night meetings would be on Monday nights,” asked Mayor Brien Lassiter. “If we are going to change we have to decide how to do that.”

Council then discussed whether to institute the change in 2015, or wait and begin with the new calendar year.

“I would be great to begin it since we have this big issue with the (semi-truck) parking, if we could meet our citizens at the next meet,” said Stackhouse.

Donald Kirkland, who attended the meeting, asked about Council scheduling a morning and an evening each month.

“We’d be stretched to have enough on the agenda for two meetings, and that’s the main thing” said the Mayor.

Discussion carried on as to when to begin and Hammond reminded Council once again that the schedule could be changed at anytime, but he said it must be advertised.  Even though the schedule is usually set for the upcoming year in December, he pointed to the methods of change.

“You have to pre-schedule a vote on it, and it then it changes, so you can change it during the fiscal year,” the Town Manager said.

Discussion continued as to whether to schedule evening meetings to avoid conflicts with other government entities that meet – such as County Commissioners.

“The easy way is even (numbered) months would be Tuesday mornings, and odd (numbered) months – beginning in July – would be Monday nights,” Lassiter said.

The start time for meetings of other Town Councils in Hertford County that meet in the evening was also brought up: Murfreesboro meets at 6 p.m. while Winton meets at 7:30, according to Town Attorney William “Buddy” Jones.

The Ahoskie Council settled on 7 p.m. for their evening meeting start time.

Stackhouse then made a clarified motion to meet in the evenings on second Mondays at 7 p.m. during odd-numbered months beginning July 2015, and retain second Tuesday morning meetings at 10 a.m. during even-numbered months.

The change would be then in effect for only the remainder of the 2015 calendar year when a new meeting schedule would be adopted for the following year in December. The motion was seconded by Blackburn and Council approved it unanimously.