GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a unanimous vote, the Clay County Board of County Commissioners will start their meetings at 4 p.m. ending its long tradition of a 2 p.m. start time, beginning with its …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a unanimous vote, the Clay County Board of County Commissioners will start their meetings at 4 p.m. ending its long tradition of a 2 p.m. start time, beginning with its August 8 meeting.
After continued suggestions from Commissioner Gavin Rollins, a discussion of changing the start time of the BCC meetings was added to Tuesday’s agenda.
“I know the arguments against it are that it’s been tried in the past and people don’t necessarily turn out, and I understand that,” Rollins said. “I think we owe it to the public to give them that opportunity. They’re used to public meetings being in the evenings.”
One of the major concerns with changing meeting times was that county staff would have to stay longer on meeting days, however County Manager Stephanie Kopelousos assured the commissioners that the staff could work when they were needed.
“I think that from our team’s perspective we’re going to make whatever time you set work, we will definitely be flexible with our staff,” Kopelousos said. “I think that most people who present to you are department heads and we will make appropriate accommodations if we go well into the evening.”
For some commissioners, this was all the convincing they needed to move back the meeting time. As long as the staff and speakers would not be affected negatively, the board seemed open to the idea of trying something different.
Commissioner Mike Cella came to the meeting with research in hand. Through some searching, he brought the board a list of meeting times for other county commissions, with some starting early in the morning and others late in the evening.
“I have no problem doing the people’s business at any time,” Cella said, claiming the proposed 4 p.m. meeting time was a good middle ground between the regular 2 p.m. meetings and the evening meetings held by area councils and the school board.
The rest of the board agreed, with Commissioner Diane Hutchings suggesting that, in addition to changing the start time, they could push more contentious or controversial items to the end of the agenda so as to accommodate public discussion even more.
Chair Wayne Bolla agreed with Hutchings and closed out the discussion before asking for a motion to approve.
“I will do anything that enhances the public’s ability to attend the meetings and participate,” Bolla said. “That’s the idea of having public meetings. If the 4 o’clock start will do that, great.”