Commissioners to Revisit Rules for Public Comments in Board Meetings

Posted on February 1, 2021 by ROMI WHITE

Commission Chairman Dave Piech presides over meetings

Santa Rosa County Commissioners on Thursday will revisit a proposed resolution aimed to regulate public comments during board meetings. The meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. at the County Administrative Complex, located at 6495 Caroline Street in Milton.

The proposed ordinance verbiage follows:

PUBLIC FORUM: Regular Board meetings include a Public Forum during which members of the public may address the Board. Persons attending the meeting may sign up to speak during the Public Forum on any matter of County business that is not on that meeting’s agenda as a formal agenda item. Those speaking at Public Forum will provide the subject matter of their comments on the sign-up form.

COMMENT ON AGENDA ITEMS: Persons attending a Regular Board Meeting may sign up to speak once on each agenda item on that meeting’s agenda. Those speakers who have signed up will be called to speak prior to final action by the Board on that agenda item.

To ensure that meetings are conducted in a civil, orderly, and efficient manner, the following rules shall govern all members of the public providing comment and input to the Board:

  • A) All speakers and presentations should be tasteful, truthful, and non-accusatory in nature.
  • B) Speakers should be concise and refrain from redundancy with other speakers.
  • C) All comment during the public forum and on County agenda items will be limited to no more than four minutes. The Chairperson of the Board may decrease the time allotment if needed to ensure all speakers are provided an opportunity to speak on a given item.
  • D) Members of the public addressing the Board shall provide their full name and address on the record. 
  • E) All remarks shall indicate the speaker’s support, opposition or neutrality on a proposition.
  • F) All members of the audience must show decorum so that all interested parties are allowed an opportunity to hear the discussion.
  • G) In order to ensure the efficient conduct of County business, the chairman may limit the number of speakers on the same topic or require them to select representative speakers.

The Board will not allow:

  • A) Comments on any ongoing criminal investigation or pending or ongoing litigation.
  • B) A speaker to relinquish time to another speaker.
  • C) Political placards, advertisements or other political propaganda that blocks the view of those in attendance or is deemed disruptive to the conduct of the meeting.

The Chairperson may:

  • A) Interrupt or terminate a speaker’s statement when the comments are too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, threatening, derogatory, defamatory, obscene, or irrelevant.
  • B) Request any individual to leave a meeting when that person does not observe reasonable public decorum.
  • C) Request the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office to remove a disorderly person when his/her conduct interferes with the orderly progress of a meeting.
  • D) Call a recess or adjourn a meeting when the lack of public decorum interferes with the orderly conduct of the meeting.
  • E) Waive these rules with the approval of the majority of the Board of Commissioners in attendance.