Bath Supervisors start the new year with procedure changes
It takes a bold board to change Roberts Rules of Order (or at least how they plan to use them), and Bath County’s board did that on Tuesday evening. As part of the regular procedures for the first meeting of the year, it was time to adopt the way meetings would be run, and Michael Collins, the county attorney was acting as chair until the new chair was appointed.
“The next item on the agenda is when we adopt the bylaws, and the rules of order by which we run the meetings. We’ve basically used Roberts Rules of Order, and had bylaws which established the meeting nights and so forth, for quite some years without any modifications. The only thing we’ve talked about on occasion is whether to require a second or not a second on motions, but I open that for any discussion or motions.”
Stuart Hall, of the Williamsville district spoke up.
“Mr. Chairman, I make a motion that we adopt Robert Rules of Order Revised Edition with the exception of having to have a second with the motion. I think every gentleman or lady on this board represents a district in this county, and when they have problems they deserve to be able to represent their constituents with a motion, and we deserve to take action.”
“Is that a motion?”
“It’s a motion.”
“And a second?”
“Any other further comment?”
Richard Byrd of Valley Springs District,
“I agree with the motion on the floor. I think that a second should not be required because representation of our constituents is what we’re up here for. And I think if a person brings it to the board, he should represent it.”
“Any further discussion? Ok, there’s a motion on the floor with a second.”
Claire Collins offered some information she had from a recent elected officials’ training. A manual of commonly accepted Board procedures actually specifies some motions that should require a second, and listed some others that might not. She also explained a second does not always indicate how a person will vote on a motion, only that they are in favor of discussing it.
The action continued.
“Ok, so now there’s a motion to adopt the bylaws, and Robert’s Rules of Order, but not require a second, on any motions made by a member of the board. That’s what we’re voting on. And I’ll ask for all in favor,”
“Ok. The motion is unanimously adopted.”
The next several items included electing Claire Collins, Chair of the board, and Richard Byrd, Vice Chair. The members approved the regular meeting calendar, and later made some adjustments for work sessions with the School Board, and for Budget and Capital Improvement Planning meetings. Those changes are available on the county web site.
The presentation by Sadie Gibson from Robertson, Farmer and Cox Associates of the Fiscal Year Audit for 2015 revealed the county’s books achieved an “unmodified” classification, which is the highest standard for accountability after their rigorous examination of financial records.
One other discussion leading to an action was this newly composed board’s desire to appoint members to local board’s and commissions such as the Rockbridge Regional Library, Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, or Community Policy and Management Team. These boards are typically composed of local residents who offer opinions or recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. Clair Collins repeated the motion regarding the adjustment in policy about getting new members onto those boards.
“We have a motion, to understand Mr. Byrd’s motion, your motion is to change the process to not advertise, and not require an application, and then also reinstitute the stipends that were in place prior to the 2014 action. We have a motion; any further discussion on the motion?”
This motion passed unanimously. During comments towards the close of the meeting, it was clear the public has significant concerns about how anyone will learn what openings there are on boards and commissions, other than being notified by a supervisor. Aside from checking the County website daily, a regular Bath resident, who is interested, might miss these opportunities to serve.