Santa Rosa County Commission Chairman Sam Parker has decided against limiting public forum to one hour; however, in an effort to streamline meetings, he wants to change the format so that each speaker may only address the board one time during meetings.
Past Chairman Colten Wright had established a one-hour limit on public forum in an effort to streamline meetings. But that resulted in speakers being limited to two minutes at one meeting.
Parker said wants to ensure that everyone who wants to speak has an opportunity to do so for four minutes. He also wants to merge public forum back into the start of board meetings.
“We don’t need four minutes,” said District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith, who suggested speakers be able to speak one or two minutes throughout the meetings.
Vice Chairman James Calkins voiced support for Parker’s proposed change, noting that Santa Rosa County School District and other local governments follow a similar format, allowing constituents one turn at the podium.
Parker said the idea, aimed for more efficient and productive meetings, came from Okaloosa County Commissioner Nathan Boyles. He also pointed out that speakers would have two opportunities, during committee and regular meeting public forums, to voice their opinions prior to the board taking a vote on an agenda item.
Gary Michaels of Gulf Breeze supports the meeting format change. “Sadly we’ve seen this same small group of extremists who are passionate about disruption to our local government bodies. Everyone in the community is well aware of who leads them and the destruction they attempt to bring to our local communities.”
Although Parker had also suggested starting morning meetings at 8 a.m., which is half an hour earlier, after a couple of commissioners expressed concerns about the related impact on staff, he decided to keep 8:30 a.m. as the start time.
The board will vote on updated the related resolution to reflect the changes during the Dec. 13 regular meeting.