Hamilton County Commission to study, then vote on proposed additional meetings

Hamilton County Commission to study, then vote on proposed additional meetings

August 21st, 2019 by Sarah Grace Taylor in Local Regional News

A proposal for more Hamilton County Commission meetings has been tabled until the county's legal committee can do a study on the impact of evening meetings.

The commission voted Wednesday to hold off on a resolution introduced last week by District 5 Commissioner Katherlyn Geter to host additional meetings for matters of specific public interest.

Commissioners now meet Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m., which interferes with many working people's schedules, prompting the recent implementation of a live streaming service for all commission meetings as well as discussion about alternative meeting times.

On principal, the idea was well received by commissioners, but logistical concerns prevailed.

District 3 Commissioner Greg Martin suggested the meetings discussion be handed to the appropriate committee, which Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley deemed to be the legal committee, of which Martin is chairman.

"I think there are some logistics issues and security issues," Martin said, asking the commission to "tap the brakes" on the resolution.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said his staff would have to adjust hours to attend the meetings, which likely would not cost the county much, but he was unsure what county clerk and sheriff staff would cost.

District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd said the county needs to be careful of "unintended consequences" and that, though the resolution was one of good intentions, they didn't want to accidentally "open a Pandora's box."

District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker took the conversation a step further, adding that all commission meetings should be moved to 5:30 p.m., doing away with morning meetings altogether, suggesting that all angles of meeting time change should be evaluated in the study.

Geter was amicable to putting the proposal to committee first, and negotiated with Martin to set a deadline of Nov. 30 for the committee to complete the study. She insisted the matter not "slip through the cracks."

"I would hope that our intent and purpose is to always connect with individuals in the county," Geter said. "However we vote on this today and going forward, that should be our number one purpose."

Martin said he will set the first related committee meeting at next week's commission meeting.

District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey said that no matter when the meetings are, someone was going to be left out, questioning the need for the resolution.

"With this resolution, you almost have to ask 'what is the purpose,'" Mackey said. "Here in Hamilton County I think all of us would agree we have open government ... I don't know how much more involved and open we can be in terms of taking government to the people."

During the discussion of accessibility, Coppinger announced the county is working toward putting TVs in the courthouse hallways for overflow during especially crowded meetings.

In other business, the commission voted to approve a resolution that allows an undisclosed company to accept more than $1.2 million in state funding to build in Hamilton County.

While details of the $61 million project will not be disclosed for 30-60 days, here's what the commission was able to surmise from questions about the business:

It's not at Enterprise South, though its location is unknown; it's supposed to bring 150 new jobs, ranging from hourly production positions to six-figure engineering positions; and it will take about a year to build after the announcement is made.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.


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