New commission set to pledge openness, more public input

When the Fayette County Commission began getting public criticism on the West Fayetteville Bypass several years ago, one of the public complaints was that some commissioners were dismissive of their complaints about the project, and occasionally derisive.

But with three new commissioners being sworn in today (Jan. 2), they are expected to adopt a resolution that includes a pledge to “strive to be friendly, courteous, fair and compassionate in all our dealings,” while also treating each individual staff member with respect while also providing “an open and welcoming workplace” for employees.

The resolution also pledges to “give the citizenry ample opportunity to voice their comments and concerns in all meetings.”

The previous board allowed public comments at the beginning of the meeting, giving citizens a chance to address the board on any matter including the agenda items that were to be discussed later in the meeting. Public comments were also a part of public hearings on ordinance changes, zoning matters and the like.

The board also at times allowed, but was not required, to accept public comment on individual agenda items that were not official public hearings.

According to holdover County Commissioner Steve Brown, that will change with the new commissioners taking office. Brown in an email to The Citizen said he expects citizens will be allowed to speak on any agenda item at the same time the item is being discussed by the commission. Citizens will still be allowed to speak on any matters not on the agenda during the public comment portion of the meeting as well, Brown said.

“It will be the most open format ever presented from a Fayette County Board of Commissioners (or any other county government that I am aware of),” Brown wrote.

In addition to valuing public comment, the new resolution also affirms that the commission is responsible for looking out for citizens’ best interests.

The resolution also states that “although there may not be unanimous consent on every issue, the board requires complete honesty and integrity in everything we do while valuing everyone’s opinion.”

The resolution also notes that the board “vows to be good stewards of the citizens’ resources, exercising the same vigilance that we would use to guard and conserve our own personal resources.”