Fre­quency of county’s Ci­ti­zen Cor­ner meet­ings re­duced

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

ELK­TON

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.

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