Agendas are required for public meetings for a reason — to alert people that the government is planning to take some sort of action.
That’s why we’re not sure why, if the agenda item for the meeting on clawing back $1.1 million from the Regional Transportation Commission was incorrect, it wasn’t fixed on the third try.
We suspect that Commission Chairman John Engels was trying to unhitch the action of moving the money from the potential consequences.
The commission deadlocked on the issue Feb. 4.
The first time it was due before the county commission, Engels deleted it entirely from the agenda, along with anything that could possibly hold.
That’s his right as chairman, certainly. As to the three people who were cut off from providing public comment, we’ve heard time and again the commission is only required to have beginning and ending public comment.
We have a feeling that despite the protestations last week, the debate over paying to design Muller Parkway has a lot more to do with where the money’s going to than where it came from.
If that $1.1 million was designated to go to code enforcement or the senior center, there would have been far less debate.
As to transparency, The Record-Courier reported the day of the Dec. 17 meeting the county’s intention to transfer the money from $8.9 million in the CARES Act fund to the general fund in partial reimbursement for $3.5 million in coronavirus expenditures from last fiscal year. A majority of the board of commissioners then voted to transfer the same amount to the Regional Transportation Commission.
The RTC then approved a contractor to do the work required for the Parkway. While we’re not qualified to say whether all that was legal, it was certainly done in full view of the public.
On Dec. 17, Mr. Engels threatened legal action before the meeting occurred, so he certainly knew where it was coming from then. If he feels there was a misappropriation of funds, he has as much right to report criminal activity or sue the county as anyone.