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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Last Hurrah (Almost)

Last night the Oriental Board of Commissioners that was elected in 2007 held its last regular session. We will meet at least one more time - November 30, to set the agenda for the new board's first meeting on December 1.

We addressed or at least discussed a number of items about which we have previously failed to reach agreement. The most significant of these:

A. Minutes of closed sessions. North Carolina General Statutes allow and in some cases require discussions to be held in closed session. The law also requires minutes to be kept. They must be made public when no longer necessary to be closed. Office personnel have found references to 33 closed sessions, going back to 2004. No one remembers any of the minutes ever having been opened. Of the 33 closed sessions, the minutes book does not contain three of them. Of the remaining thirty, signed copies have not been found for a dozen of the closed sessions. This is important, because the signed copy becomes the official record of the version of minutes adopted by the board. Plainly we need better controls.

I believe the majority, including all but two paragraphs of minutes concerning the Town's court cases should be opened to the public. We will debate this at the agenda meeting Nov. 30.

B. The Town Manager clarified the costs of hiring additional peace officers. The board agreed to continue pursuing the hire of two part-time officers. The delay in hiring one has resulted from delay in getting final approval from the state government agency he works for. The manager is optimistic this won't take much longer. Commissioner Kellam has developed a set of criteria for the other hire. We will advertise for that position. This was also a topic of discussion during the public comment period.

C. The board voted to clarify no-parking areas in front of the Treasure Company, without reducing the number of legal spaces.

D. The board voted to reduce handicap parking in front of the Baptist Church to one space.

E. The new computer for water billing arrives next week - expense to be charged to the water fund.

F. Of five items of old business I had proposed be addressed, the board only acted on one: reducing the speed limit on the portion of Midyette Street between North and Broad to 15 miles per hour.

These may seem like mundane matters, but they are the kind of things that require careful attention by the board.

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