Night meetings a possibility for Jasper council?
by James Phillips
May 16, 2012 | 1073 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper City Council holds its meeting at 10 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. One council member would like to see the time of those meetings changed.

Johnny Rollins, council member for District 2, said during Tuesday morning’s council meeting he wanted to give night meetings a try during the months of June and July.

“I think we could take those four meetings and see what kind of response we get from citizens,” Rollins said. “We do leave a certain amount of the population out by meeting in the mornings.”

Rollins said a Jasper citizen had recently suggested to him that changing the meeting time would allow more people the ability to attend.

“Working people would be able to attend at nights,” Rollins said. “People with families could also attend and get involved. Our citizens who have children in our school system, playing sports in our park and recreations programs, as well as their interests in the many other concerns we face daily, should have the ability to have their voices heard.”

Rollins said he posted the idea on his personal Facebook page and received 44 likes and four positive responses to the idea.

“I’ve also talked with more than two dozen other people personally about this issue with all positive responses,” he said.

The change in meeting times would also allow more people the ability to seek election to the city council, Rollins added.

“Some people might be interested in running for these jobs that we hold and we sort of shut them out,” Rollins said. “I know after 19 years of taking two days off per month that I’ve lost money being on the council.”

Gary Cowen, council member for District 3, said the council had attempted night meetings in the past and saw less participation from citizens.

“I would be willing to give it a try,” Cowen said.

Cowen suggested scheduling one night meeting in June.

“Let’s try a regular day meeting for our first meeting in June and for the second meeting make it at night,” he said. “Let’s see what people think and make the call right there. If it is good, we could try again in July.”

City attorney Russ Robertson said the city has an ordinance that appoints the times for council meetings.

“Frequently you reschedule meetings that are not a permanent change,” he said. “You have the authority to reschedule a particular meeting. A permanent change would require an amendment to an ordinance.”

Council members said they would hold a work session on the subject before their first June meeting, which will be June 5 at 10 a.m. A date and time has not been set for the work session.

In other action:

•Mayor Sonny Posey recognized members of the Walker High track team, which placed second in the state track meet.

•Council members approved a request by the Department of Human Resources to place signs at the Walker County Courthouse in recognition of National Foster Care Month.

•A trip by Police Chief Connie Rowe to the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police Convention July 30 through Aug. 2 was approved.