Meeting not routine

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Southampton County Clerk of Courts Rick Francis, left, swears in new county Supervisor Glenn Updike, right, as Supervisor Chairman Dallas Jones looks on during Tuesday’s reorganizational meeting. -- GWEN ALBERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

COURTLAND—What looked to be a routine Southampton County supervisors meeting on Tuesday was anything but routine.

The reorganizational meeting—held annually by state law to appoint a chairman of the board and handle other housekeeping duties—turned into a discussion on meeting times, a public comment time during meetings and using electronic vs. paper agendas.

After swearing in supervisors, including newcomers Bruce Phillips, Barry Porter, Glenn Updike and Dr. Alan Edwards, the board re-elected Dallas Jones as its chairman and elected Edwards its vice chairman.

Supervisors then voted 4-2 to holds their meetings at 7 p.m. the fourth Monday of the month. Previously, they were at 8:30 a.m. one month and 7 p.m. the next, also on the fourth Monday.

Supervisors Carl Faison and Ronnie West opposed the change. Faison has a personal commitment on Monday evenings, while West said the alternating schedule works for him.

Updike, Phillips, Edwards and Porter favored the change.

“I feel it will give citizens the opportunity to get here after work,” Updike said.

“Our obligation is to the convenience of the citizens,” Edwards added “People have a tough time getting off work (for the morning meetings).”

Edwards then asked for a time during meetings when residents can comment. Currently residents who want to speak sign up ahead of time to appear on the agenda.

“If we open it up for anyone to come and talk . . . I don’t see the necessity,” Faison said.

West favored Edwards’ idea with a two- to three-minute speaking time limit.

The board voted 7-0 to allow comments, but they must be limited to two minutes.

Finally, Porter suggested researching whether it would be cheaper to replace paper agendas with electronic agendas. The county would provide computers with the agendas, which supervisors would use during meetings.

“You want me to have a computer?” West asked. “I don’t have one and I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

Jones said he also doesn’t use a computer and would have to take a class.

Updike said he didn’t care how it is done as long as it is the cheapest way possible.

It was agreed that County Administrator Mike Johnson would look into costs.