The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors decided Wednesday to revamp its monthly meeting schedule. Beginning in September, the board plans to start its first meeting of each month in the early afternoon and add a regular evening work session on the Tuesday before its second meeting.
The decision on a new schedule came at the end of a day that was packed with almost 12 hours of non-stop business.
“We have all spoken about the challenge of the schedule with the board meetings,” County Executive Tom Foley said. “I think you’ll be much more fresh … and this may make you more efficient and help you get through this work.”
“This is a result of talking with [the board] and looking at other localities, and hopefully, it moves us towards a solution to some of the challenges we’ve had,” he added.
During 2014, board meetings have often run long, and a detailed review of the Comprehensive Plan has added more work sessions. Further, the board plans to hold additional joint meetings with the county School Board this fall to improve the budget development process.
Recently, the board’s regular meetings have been held the first and second Wednesday of each month, with the first starting at 9 a.m. and the second at 6 p.m. Other work sessions and committee meetings further fill out the board’s schedule each month.
Beginning in September, the new schedule eliminates morning meetings. The meeting on the first Wednesday of each month will start at 1 p.m. and adjourn by 9 p.m., unless the board specifically votes to extend the meeting.
A general public comment opportunity will be provided at the beginning of the meeting and at about 7 p.m.
“I think the public has a lot more opportunity to be involved in public business, and folks that work during the day, that have some challenges, it also helps address that,” Foley said. “I haven’t found any localities that start at 9 a.m., I think for that very reason.”
“It’s such a novel idea, and I wish I’d had it years ago,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek.
On the Tuesday of each month before the second monthly meeting, the board will hold a work session on the Comprehensive Plan update from 5 to 9 p.m. This work session slot also is expected to be used for other topics, including the budget.
“I think the budget work sessions are the one thing, besides the Comprehensive Plan, that we could be engaging the public in better in the evenings,” said Supervisor Diantha McKeel.
The second Wednesday meeting will be relatively unchanged. It will begin at 6 p.m. with a public comment opportunity and then focus on public hearings related to land-use matters. If necessary, the meeting will be preceded by a work session at 4 p.m.
“This will give [us] three full hours for those land use-matters that take some time so that we can, hopefully, get out by 9 p.m.,” Foley said.
The board revisits its meeting schedule each January at the organizational meeting where it also elects officers, makes committee assignments, appoints a clerk and adopts meeting rules and procedures.
STORY UPDATED August 15, 2014 to reflect subsequent decision made earlier this week to hold the new work sessions on Tuesday instead of Monday