Citizens get more say in town


In an effort to give citizens ample time to speak on issues before the council, the Ocean View Town Council recently created a second citizen’s privilege opportunity.

For the next four months, citizens will be able to speak prior to the new business segments of council meetings, as long as their comments relate directly to an agenda item. Citizens will also continue to be allowed to speak at the end of the meeting. But no citizen will be allowed to speak during both participation periods.

The change ties in with another change the town council made Tuesday, July 8, which requires all agenda items to be explained on the agenda. That way, both residents and councilmen will have a full understanding of what will be discussed under each agenda item, said Councilman Roy Thomas.

After the four-month experiment with citizen participation, the council will revisit the issue and decide how to move forward.

Councilman Perry Mitchell said he sees no reason for adding a second citizen participation period because one seemed to be adequate.

“One must keep in mind that citizen participation for local government and other levels of government is the exception rather than the rule,” said Mitchell. “Too much citizen participation, for example, during the meeting would create a more disorderly town meeting, delay and confusion, and the council would not be able to get the ‘people’s’ work done in an orderly way.”

Councilman Bill Wichmann was in favor of the additional public participation.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Councilman Bill Wichmann. “The more input the better. I want them to have every opportunity to express their concerns.”

The resolution to start the public participation experiment was heartedly backed by Mayor Gordon Wood, who said it makes more sense to allow residents to give their opinions before the council makes a decision. Once the decision is made, it seems the opinions are moot, he said.

“I think we have done something worthwhile,” said Wood.

Council agendas will be posted online the Friday before the meeting on the town’s Web site, at www.oceanviewde.com.