County meeting notice requirements change | RecordCourier.com

County meeting notice requirements change

by Susie Vasquez

Notification times for public meetings in Douglas County could be shortened and the majority vote requirement for special meetings eliminated, following Thursday’s unanimous approval by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

“I have no problem with changing the notification requirement from three to two weeks, as long as we use the plain meaning of the word week,” said Douglas County resident Jim Slade. “I do have a problem if you use the same tortured interpretation the Douglas County District Attorney used last month.

“Under that interpretation, you could decide today, notice on Friday and again on Sunday, then have the meeting Monday,” Slade said. “This is not the plain and ordinary meaning of two weeks notice, nor the legistative intent of the law.”

The objection comes on the heels of a recent notification error, involving a shortening of that one-week period. District Attorney Scott Doyle said state law requires just two weeks notice and there were reasons for adoption of that interpretation.

“Our county’s requirement for three weeks notification is archaic,” he said. “We gave two-and-a-half weeks notice, half a week in excess of state code.”

Douglas County resident Jeanne Shizuru said she has no objection to reducing the noticing time. Removing the requirement for a majority vote for special meetings, is another matter.

“I cherish that rule,” she said. “And it troubles me, that you are considering deleting a rule in the county code that affords the public more time to know about that meeting.

The measure was approved unanimously. It will be readdressed, and either approved or denied, at an upcoming county commissioners’ meeting.

In other business:

— Contrary to what was reported in The Record-Courier last week, Douglas County will have a new community development director, commissioners said at Thursday’s meeting.

The error did not escape the scrutiny of outgoing commissioner Bernie Curtis.

“As an outgoing member of the Board of Commissioners, I’d like to thank the Record-Courier for their accuracy on this endeavor – this and other issues I’ve had,” Curtis said sarcastically. “They’ve created many more phone calls for me at home than usual, most on the negative side.

“But that’s ongoing, I guess,” he said.

Commissioners approved a measure giving Douglas County Manager Dan Holler the authority to hire a new community development director as well as other positions, including director of human services, and emergency management director.

Bob Nunes, who served as community development director for 11 years, retired in November.

This was the first reading for restructuring the code, which dates back to 1973, said Deputy District Attorney Scott Doyle.

“At that point, we didn’t have a county manager,” he said. “So the various department heads were appointed by the board.”

Under state law, the county manager has the authority to manage subordinates. This ordinance parallels that state outline. The only thing taken away is the board’s power of appointment, Doyle said.

The new code will not be enacted until after the second reading and two weeks publication, before Holler could choose a new development director, he said.

“Given the time it takes to find someone for that type of job, we could still be looking at candidates,” Doyle said.

— Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.