Meeting for the sake of meeting is not for everyone. Taxpayers in Richmond County are hoping good candidates will run for office. Would you?
We want our elected officials to conduct themselves in a businesslike manner.
This includes respecting time, being prepared, and making wise choices with our tax dollars.
Case in point: Commission Board Meetings.
Richmond and Columbia Counties Board of Commissioners meet every other Tuesday God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.
These men and women do so to conduct the business of running their respective counties.
The similarities end there.
Richmond County, with ten commissioners and a mayor, begin their meetings at 2PM, yet they generally do not start on time.
Columbia County has four commissioners, plus the chairman. Columbia County meetings begin at 6:00, and they begin at 6:00.
Take the last commission meetings for example, held Tuesday, October 1st, 2019.
The Richmond County Commission meeting stretched out over three hours. (Three hours, one minute and six seconds to be exact)
The Columbia County Commission meeting was over in fourteen minutes, twenty eight seconds. “Troop 643, I hope what you learned from this is that government can be efficient. Columbia County is run very well because this meeting is over,” Columbia County Board of Directors Doug Duncan addressing a Boy Scout troop which had come to watch the meeting.
We asked Richmond County Commissioner Brandon Garrett why the meetings take so long in Richmond County.
“A lot of the items we approve during the commission meeting are already pre-budgeted items like a fire truck,” Garrett explained.
“We knew at the beginning of the year that we were going to buy a fire truck. We’ve been through the bidding process, here’s the price of the fire truck which is what we budgeted, can we approve it?”
This is what would be placed on a consent agenda and a perfuntionary vote would be held approving. But not in Richmond County.
Oftentimes there are questions about that fire truck.
“How hard is it to pick up the phone and call the chief and say ‘Hey, I see you’re buying this fire truck from so and so. Why’d we go there?’”
Garrett continued, “It’s oftentimes a simple answer like ‘this is the low bid, it’s what we need, it’s within the budget that we had.’”
“There is ten minutes we don’t have to talk about it on the floor,” Garrett stated.
Those ten minute discussions add up.
Middle of the workday meetings that drone on for hours and hours are an obvious impediment to attracting employed, engaged citizens to run for the commission in Augusta. It is a serious issue that hopefully one day will be addressed.