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Budget work sessions to be held throughout county

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Commission is taking its budget work sessions on the road.

Commissioners have decided to hold a work session in each district of the county during the budget process, and to relax the rules and allow the public to speak at the meetings.

District 1 Commissioner John Douglas made the suggestion at the board's March 19 meeting and it was unanimously approved.

"We've been looking for ways to increase public participation in their county government. This is a way to us to get out of the court house and take government to the people rather than them always having to come to us," Douglas said in a follow-up interview. "If we can do a meeting a year in each district, we would likely get first time visitors and others to come out when we meet closer to their homes. It's an effort to make government more accessible to the public."

The first budget work session will be held at the Mansfield Community Center at a date and time to be determined.

"I do agree with Commissioner Douglas that we do need to get out into the community, especially in my district, a lot of people are new to our community and don't get a chance to come to downtown Covington, let alone even know where downtown Covington is half the time, so I do agree we need to move some of the work sessions out in the districts," said District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims at the BOC's March 19 meeting.

Sims said it might be better to hold work sessions when a topic applies to a specific district -- giving examples such as the Salem Overlay on the west side and proposed change of ZIP code on the east side -- but questioned whether it would be appropriate to hold all work sessions away from the board's regular meeting spot at the Historic Courthouse on the Square.

Douglas said he was proposing one a year in each district.

"I just think like you said, people out in Mansfield and Newborn might not have ever been in this building before, or down in Rocky Plains, down that way, may not have ever have been in this building before. So if we can take it to them once a year, then I think it's something we ought to take a look at," he said.

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson agreed.

"It would be a chance to get out and see some of the people possibly on the other side of town," he said.

County Manager John Middleton suggested holding the budget work sessions in the districts. Douglas also said he wanted to allow the public to speak on any topic, with the time limit of three minutes per person that is allotted during regular commission meetings. There is typically no public comment during work sessions.

Commissioners approved his motion to hold the first budget work session at Mansfield Community Center and to allow public comments.

Comments

Newtownqq 1 year, 6 months ago

This idea is crazy! Should Congress go door to door to the people ? This is just another way that John Douglass and his crew can keep the side show going! Everyone knows where the BOC meetings are and that they are in Covington. Everyone who has a car goes to the Tag Office down the Street to get their tags or pay taxes. Let the show begin!

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John 1 year, 6 months ago

I have been informed that in two of the districts at the west end of NC the Commissioners hold "townhall" style meeting with folks they represent for sometime now. It is about time that all te Commissioners start singing out of the same choir book as their wages/benefits & expense accounts are paid by all tax payers in Newton County. By meeting with the people the represent they can devote more time and focus on topics that pertain to their specific districts vs a listen to all & hurry up session that can monoplies by a few.. I like to call that "getting up front & personal". Don't stop here. Great Idea! Should be a "Great Change" PS: The US Congress doesn't listen to the masses - 62 % or higher said no to Obamacare & we still got it- go figure. I forgot money can change peoples votes from our "elected" lobbyist.

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dennistay53 1 year, 6 months ago

The more I see out of John Douglas the more I like him

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henrystamm 1 year, 6 months ago

Actually I would like to see the US congress do that. That would be great and they would here the people not the special interest. Some would even be run out of town.

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QuitYourWhining 1 year, 6 months ago

I am quite encouraged by the direction that this board is taking. Seeking public input is NEVER a bad thing. Thank you to ALL of our Commissioners for working together. Now it is up to us to speak up and offer suggestions instead of complaints, The time for divisiveness is gone.

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mansfield 1 year, 6 months ago

Newtownqq, this county just had an election with a 3.3% turnout. Does that satisfy you? What's crazy is your snipping and whinning every time any commissioner tries to make some progress and bring some needed change to Newton County. Does Congress go door to door? No and they have a 9% approval rating. I say bravo to this initiative and I hope to see more. When the county commission meets in your neighborhood, stay home if you cant add to the solution rather than the problem.

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Newtownqq 1 year, 6 months ago

The 3.3% turn out was by design. I am just saying that this may not be appropriate and illegal. If you read the County Charter is states the meeting of the BOC at the Historic Court House. Yes it was approved that meetings could be held in mansfield, but it also should require a amendment to allow meetings outside the Historic Court House to take place. The 9% rating is much because of Members of Congress just saying NO so why not ask Paul Broun why earth is only 9,000 years old. We elected those who have the 9% approval rating!

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