RMWD changes its meeting time

Members of the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) Board have passed an ordinance changing their meeting time from 7:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.
“This issue seems to be presented as a convenience to the RMWD staff, but nowhere in this agenda item does it address the impact to the public,” said former RMWD Director Kit Kesinger, whose term on the board ended Dec. 31.
The former director of Division I was speaking before the board during its Jan 13 meeting.
“The RMWD represents the public and is really one of the main contacts for the public to the water district,” said Kesinger.
One concern with current board members is that RMWD staff must wait for 3-1/2 hours after work on the nights of board meetings before the meeting begins. According to RMWD General Manager Ralph McIntosh, the issue of the time change does not add any additional cost to the district so much as a commuting time issue for the individual district employees.
“Most members have to drive down the hill to their residence, some at a great distance,” said McIntosh. “After the meeting, they get home late at night, and then have to be to work the next morning.”
Setting the meetings at 4:30 p.m. would present an obstacle to a large portion of the public that works a traditional 9-5 job, said Kesinger, who has a daytime job out of town.
“Basically, this action would prevent this forum from being accessible to much of the public,” he said. “Certainly there must be a compromise where a schedule could be set that would be accessible to the public, and convenient to the staff.”
Division 5 Director Red Hager is in favor of the time change.
“I’ve been to a lot of meetings here and have seen very little of the public in attendance,” Hager said. “When you talk about the public, you’re talkingabout two or three people. If someone has a real issue to bring to the board, they will make provisions to be here at 4:30.”
The issue was brought up that the members of the board may not know what issues will initiate a public response.
“It is hard to anticipate when the public is going to be interested in a particular issue,” said Kesinger. “What Director Hager is talking about is creating a bunch of hoops for the public to have to jump through in order to be able to present their position, or express their interest in an issue.”
A compromise for a time allotment available for the public to address the board was brought forth by Kesinger and new RMWD Director Darrell Beck, who defeated Kesinger in Kesinger’s bid for re-election to the Division 1seat in November.
“I have been through an awful lot of supervisor meetings at 9 in the morning,” said Beck. “When there was an important issue to discuss, we made sure people got there.”
Beck suggested that the members consider moving what he called hot subjects, which could generate public interest, later into the meeting time schedule.
“There are plenty of times between 4:30 and 7:30 for the public to address the staff, and I encourage the board to consider some compromise of time for just that,” Kesinger said.
Division 4 Director Jim Robinson was against changing the existing schedule.
“I think the public will take the perception that we are trying to shut them out of our meetings,” Robinson said. “We are here to serve our constituents and our public.”
Robinson said that individuals who held jobs would be hard-pressed to run for a position on the board if the meeting time were moved up.
The four men on the board are retired.
“Former Director Wilsman had staff make calls to other agencies to find out what time they hold their meetings,” said McIntosh, referring to the Division 2 director who resigned from the board last month for health reasons. “Some are in the morning, and some are held in the afternoon. We are one of the only agencies who hold their meetings at night.”
“I would rather go ahead with the motion the way it is and see if we get a lot of complaints from the public,” said Beck. “Then, we could perhaps change the time back.”
“The purpose is to not have the staff hang around for 3-1/2 hours twiddling their thumbs,” said Hager.
The board approved the motion in a 3-1 vote, with Robinson dissenting.
The first water board meeting to be held at the new 4:30 p.m. time will be on Feb. 12.

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Posted by tlprep80 on Jan 22 2009. Filed under Archive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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