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Hennessee suggests policy change for county commission meetings
Robert Hennessee.jpg
Robert Hennessee

A Warren County commissioner wants to take a page out of McMinnville government’s playbook when it comes to agendas, meetings and public notice.

Commissioner Robert Hennessee says he would like to prevent items from being brought up under new business during the commission’s monthly session, added to the agenda and voted on that same night.

“We’ll have a motion to amend the docket under new business and then there is a motion for it to be voted on that night,” said Hennessee. “We have done in that way two or three different times over the last year and a half or so. Some (commissioners) will have vague information and some will have no information whatsoever.” 

Hennessee suggested to members of the county’s Legislative Committee, of which he is a member, that restrictions be placed to allow time for consideration and deliberation on all measures before they are voted on by the commission.

“I feel like we aren’t providing diligence to the community when we pass resolutions without having the information before us to make the logical decisions,” he said. “Every one of those motions were made in haste. Unless it’s an emergency statutory situation and we have to have the funds appropriated, there isn’t a sense of urgency.”

He presented an ordinance approved by the city of McMinnville in 2014 that outlined its public notice and agenda policy. Among the restrictions, measures must pass in committee, no action will be taken by the board on items presented as new business on the same date if new business requires the appropriation of city funds, and business requiring the appropriation of city funds must be on the board agenda.

Alderman Mike Neal prompted creation of the ordinance due to discontent of items being considered in committee and voted on by the board in the same night, which does not allow adequate public notice. The ordinance does allow for emergency situations. City officials may suspect part or all of the policy “in the event of an unforeseen emergency where the city of McMinnville or its citizens will suffer harm.” Suspension requires approval by four board members or with two-third of the board members present.

Legislative Committee members approved adding similar provisions to the county’s policy manual, a document members have been tasked with reviewing and revising.