First amended rules of order for board of county commissioners passes

Johnson County commissioners held a lengthy discussion over the clarification for adding items to an agenda.

The amended first revision to the amended rules of order for the board of county commissioners passed unanimously with a resolution for staff to apprise them on the status of future agenda items.

Another amendment to have future agenda items placed on the agenda within six weeks and to allow staff an additional two weeks if needed was brought forth by 3rd District Commissioner Charlotte O’hara but failed 3 to 4. Commissioners Michael Ashcraft and Becky Fast voted in support of O’Hara’s proposed amendment.

Peg Trent, legal counsel, said paragraph e states a timeline and deadline for the close of business on the Friday before the next week’s meeting.

“When a commissioner wants information to be materially attached they will request it and the clerk will then send an email Tuesday, so the material will be available the following meeting,” she said. “There will be no debate or discussion at that meeting. It is only voting about adding the item onto the agenda.”

Trent said if a commissioner wants more detailed information that is not readily available they will go through the county manager for the “4-Hour Rule” process.

Shirley Allenbrand, 6th District commissioner, said she appreciated the work the staff had done on digging deep into the rule.

“It helps provide clarity on how to submit agenda items,” she said.

Michael Ashcraft, 5th district commissioner, said he wanted to know what the urgency had been for getting it on the agenda this meeting.

Trent said at the previous week’s meeting she had been instructed to bring it back, and she would be on vacation the following week.

“I didn’t want confusion while I was on vacation,” she said.

Ashcraft said he would like to know what the definition of readily available meant.

Trent said it meant the documents already existed and a minimal amount of research was required for staff.

“Some information takes time to gather and pull services,” she said. “This keeps it broad so we don’t limit.”

Ashcraft said sometimes it takes a voluminous amount of information to gather for the commissioners to understand.

“I have lived with the 4-Hour rule and some tolerance for it,” he said. “The changes don’t address timely consideration and an item might have more urgency than others.”

Mike Kelly, chair, said they didn’t want to get too descriptive in the definitions because it causes more problems. It allows staff bandwidth, reasonable latitude and reasonable leeway.

Trent reemphasized the paragraphs with the timelines are based on the close of business on Friday to getting the information to the board by Tuesday for a Thursday meeting.

“We are making sure staff has time to fully vet and do their due diligence,” Kelly said.

O’Hara said if they didn’t have some sort of timeline such as the six weeks she proposed for an amendment that failed, it could be a process similar to the state legislature where the item dies.

“If we don’t have a timeline it could be buried and never come forward,” she said. “There needs to be some sort of timeline so procedurally it isn’t buried in a dungeon and never comes forward.”

Jeff Meyers, 2nd district commissioner, said he didn’t think an item would die.

“If a commissioner wants an item to come forward it will,” he said. “I am confident it will happen.”

Allenbrand said she also couldn’t imagine an item dying.

Kelly said adding a timeline amendment would put the staff in an unfair position.

Allenbrand said she didn’t like time frames and they were all passionate about their districts.

Meyers said they had to have faith in their staff.

Janee Hanzlick, 4th district commissioner, said she appreciated the intent of the timeline amendment.

“Six weeks is a long time and gives the impression that we have six weeks,” she said. “It removes responsibility of a commissioner just asking staff on the status. We don’t want to add more bureauracy.”