Public has its say at supervisors’ meetings
If you have a gripe with Nevada County government – a complaint about potholes, tax bills or a particular building code – then 11:45 a.m. is the time to speak your mind at Board of Supervisors’ meetings.
The public comment period allows citizens to ask the supervisors about any issue, as long as it’s within the jurisdiction of the board, said board clerk Cathy Thompson.
“That’s an empowerment for the people and a legal requirement of the Brown Act,” she said.
During almost every board meeting, someone steps up to the microphone to say their piece.
Sometimes it’s just one person, and sometimes the public shows up en masse to get a word in during the 15-minute public comment time slot.
Some are stifled by the three-minute time limit, and at times the protocol can be annoying.
But this is your right as an American citizen – part of the democratic process – to speak your mind about county government, said board Chairwoman Barbara Green.
The public can only address the board on matters not appearing on the agenda, and the board can’t discuss issues raised during the public comment period.
But if the matter warrants further discussion, the board can direct staff to put it on a future agenda, Green said.
Though the public comment period is often an avenue for people to vent their frustrations about county government, it’s not always complaints that are heard.
Sometimes people will step up to the microphone to commend the supervisors for supporting a cause or an issue they favor, or to thank them for solving a problem in their neighborhood.
Residents can also get involved in the public hearing process by asking to have a matter or issue placed on a future agenda.
Any member of the public who desires to present information to the board must contact the clerk in writing requesting to be put on a future agenda, according to Resolution 99-69, which establishes rules for the preparation of the agenda.
The request should describe the issue to be presented, what action will be requested from the board, the desired meeting date and how much time will be needed to present the issue.
The clerk then coordinates with the board chair and executive officer to determine if and when the requested item will be placed on an upcoming agenda.
“I do the scheduling, and the chair and CEO are in control of who gets on the agenda,” Thompson said.
How long its takes depends on how crowded the agenda is for the meeting date requested.
“It’s my policy to put them on as soon as time allows,” Thompson said.
People can also ask their supervisor to place an item on the agenda, Green said.
Anyone has the right to request to be put on the agenda, Thompson said. But the request can be denied if the item has already been acted on by the board.
However, Thompson said a motion for reconsideration may be accepted if a supervisor who voted with the majority makes a motion for reconsideration.
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