Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commission Votes to Meet Fewer Times per Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commission Votes to Meet Fewer Times per Month

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon, Shorelines staff writer

St. Johns County commissioners agreed this week they should have three instead of four public meetings each month.

Commissioners unanimously approved a measure Tuesday directing staff to begin preparations on cutting back the number of meetings. They currently meet the first four Tuesdays of each month.

"We are better prepared for meetings than what we used to be," Commissioner Marc Jacalone said.

The new schedule for commission meetings probably won't be finalized for at least a month, possibly six weeks, said County Administrator Ben Adams. But he acknowledged the weekly meetings that often have thin agendas require a lot of hours for county staff and that's inefficient at times.

Commission Chairwoman Karen Stern liked the idea of cutting back on meetings.

"If we do drop one Tuesday, that could be used for workshops," Stern said.

Commissioner Bruce Maguire, who represents the Ponte Vedra Beach area, said to cut back could save a lot of tax dollars.

"We'd save a lot of staff time. I think that would be a major savings for the county to let the staff do real staff work," Maguire said.

But Commissioner James Bryant, who represents the Vilano Beach area, cautioned there could be drawbacks to reducing the number of meetings, including long and drawn-out sessions.

"If we go to three meetings a month, we probably ought to have a fourth Tuesday open that we could utilize if we see some of our days getting stacked up," Bryant said. "Really, we don't want to be here late at night, tired and making decisions on land-use items."

Although commissioners were excited about reducing the number of monthly meetings, there was no discussion Tuesday about changing or alternating starting times of the meetings. Some residents have complained the usual 9 a.m. start time is difficult to make for people who hold jobs.

After Tuesday's meeting, Stern acknowledged a later start time should have been included in the discussion. "We were remiss in not discussing that," Stern said, adding she will include that consideration in future direction to Adams when formulating the commission meeting schedules. …

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