Frequency of county’s Citizen Corner meetings reduced
cmattix@ cecilwhig. com
— The Cecil County Council decided last week to cut back on the number of Citizen Corner meetings it will conduct starting in June.
Council members unanimously agreed to decrease the Citizen Corner meetings from twice a month to once a month and review the decision again next year.
The vote came after a lengthy discussion brought up by Councilwoman Joyce Bowlsbey prompted by dwindling atten- dance at these twice- monthly meetings.
“For approximately the last three months we’ve had no attendance from the public,” she said, questioning the need to continue them. “But I think it’s really important to allow citizens to have time to talk to us about issues of concern.”
She was not alone in noticing the low attendance.
“I agree we’ve had scanty attendance,” Councilman Alan McCarthy said. Councilman George Patchell also noted the decreasing attendance.
Bowlsbey assured she didn’t want to discontinue the community time altogether.
The meeting was started when a different county council was in place, as a way to allow citizens to have a dialogue with their elected officials. The established policy for public comment at legislative meetings is designed to allow council to hear citizen concerns, but not respond to them. When Citizen Corner, which allows a two- way dialogue, began it was well- attended, but attendance has been on a steady decline for the last few years.
The current policy sets Citizen Corner to begin at 6 p. m. and end at 6: 45 p. m. prior to the council’s 7 p. m. legislative meeting.
“Sometimes we sit and talk to each other for an hour because no one shows up,” Council President Robert Hodge said.
The council considered doing away with Citizen Corner in June, July and August and reducing the meetings to the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p. m. starting in September, but ultimately voted 5- 0 to approve the once a month schedule starting in June to include the summer months.