July 3, 2014
Why hold County Council Meetings?
Have you ever really thought about why County Council (or any other public body) has public meetings? The answer is obvious … and maybe not so obvious.
The obvious answer: We spend your hard-earned money that you pay as taxes. You have a chance to see what we do, give us your input, and see if we listen. If we don’t listen to you, and/or perform poorly as a government, most often you elect someone else to the position.
In addition to handling your money, we also create ordinances to govern how you live, to some degree. For example, zoning laws can feel restrictive or can feel protective, depending on your viewpoint. We set standards for building or renovating new homes and businesses. Again, your perspective might be that government oversteps its bounds. However, County government does have a legal obligation to protect citizens in a variety of areas.
Reasonable people can disagree about how much is too much government and how much government is just right. So, your participation in County Council issues, whether in meetings or outside the meeting room, helps us find that balance.
The not-so-obvious answer to my question: You are seeing the freedoms you have in action.
Our forefathers wanted the public’s business carried out with participation from the citizenry. Over the decades, that right evolved to include more openness, more transparency and better access to information.
In the news last month, you might have noticed an item that said a South Carolina court ruled that Councils like ours aren’t required to have an agenda. In my view, that ruling is a step backwards in openness. As long as I am on County Council, I will fight to keep agendas available and to follow them. To do less is not just a disservice to our founding principles, but not having agendas would keep you in the dark on issues.
Agendas help detail what we will cover as a public body. Without it, I don’t understand how you would ever know what’s going on, except to come to every single meeting. And while I’d love to see every Edgefield County citizen at every meeting, we all know that won’t ever happen.
During this time of year, when we celebrate our country’s independence, I want to thank you for using your freedoms to participate in County government. Whether you come to a meeting, send an email or letter, call or visit us, County Council wants to hear what you have to say.
Until next time,