Despite some comments against it expressed from council members at the last meeting, Mayor Harold Fowler’s proposed public comment section for council meetings was approved by the Richmond Hill city council Tuesday.
Fowler said there will be a three to five minute time limit on each speaker, a maximum of 15 minutes total, and the council does not have to respond to comments. The section will be at the end of each council meeting. Council meetings take place the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. inside City Hall. Those wishing to speak must sign up prior to the start of the meeting.
Fowler said he is pleased that the motion passed, calling it "a great way for the citizens to address their mayor and council directly."
"Ultimately it’s a good thing," Councilman Van Hunter said. "People should be aware that this council and mayor want input from the people. We’ve always had that avenue in other ways, but this is simply another tool for the residents of Richmond Hill to be heard."
Comments at the last meeting included concerns that residents would use the time for personal attacks on city employees and the fact that people already have the option to speak upon submitting a written request five days prior to a council meeting. However, the motion passed with unanimous approval from council on Tuesday.
In other business:
- City Manager Mike Melton said the City of Richmond Hill could potentially receive $382,000 in federal relief aid for the negative economic impact related to the cancelation of the 5th Brigade. The proposal is part of a $40 million stimulus approved by Congress.
- Upon request from mayor and council, Melton said he got an estimate for adding video screens and monitors to council meetings, which would allow the audience to see graphics and maps presented to council members. He said it would cost around $20,000.