Baldwin County Commissioners are exploring the idea of holding work sessions regularly, in similar fashion as the local school board and city council. While the full governing body has not made a final decision, a move toward regularly held work sessions is a positive nod in the spirit of transparency and greater communication with constituents.
The item is on the board's agenda to discuss at tonight's monthly board meeting. The proposed plan, though with flexibility for change, is to recommend work sessions for fourth Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Commissioners Tommy French and Johnny Westmoreland were both recently appointed by board chair Sammy Hall to gather additional information from other counties and their setup for work sessions. French and Westmoreland are slated to report their findings to the full board at tonight's meeting.
Hopefully, board members can establish some ground rules that allow for flexibility but also balance that flexibility with a spirit of openness in order to inform the public about issues of county and community importance.
This is not the first time the county commission has established guidelines for public work sessions, however, according to County Manager Ralph McMullen, the original meeting setup gradually shifted to meetings based on individual committees. The fact that this transition occurred over time should add emphasis to the importance of establishing guidelines for the board to adhere to with the necessary level of balance.
The public should also share its thoughts. Community residents should give their respective commissioners feedback on what they think about the current meeting setup.
If the board is to move forward with a plan, input from local residents will certainly be beneficial to the decision-making process. As County Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland recently indicated, the community needs to be abreast of matters related to local government, and if decisions are made with little or no public notice it proves a challenge for citizens to stay informed and adequately have their voice.
Government, notably truly effective government, requires more dialogue - input and feedback between the people and those charged to serve.
The county's first step in that direction is duly noted. It is now up to the citizens of Baldwin County to take notice and get more involved in the process - on this and all other issues impacting this community.