By Linda Dillman
The continuing ability to voice concerns at Madison Township trustee meetings is on the minds of many township residents.
On the township trustees’ Aug. 16 meeting agenda was a discussion regarding public comments, which in previous meetings sometimes became a contentious verbal shouting match or found citizens repeatedly engaging in debate with trustees from their seats in the audience.
“Tax dollars are being spent on special meetings and we’re not allowed to comment?” said Blacklick Estates community activist Reece Kenney.
Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst said, “My understanding from the prosecutor’s office is that we do not have to allow commentary at meetings.”
Brobst explained the recent increase in special meetings was due primarily to narrow timelines and bid deadlines for the new fire station.
“We recognize the fact that we have had a lot of special meetings,” said Brobst. “We had a need to keep things going regarding station 183.”
Trustee Victor Paini said the placement of public input on the agenda was previously at the end of the meetings, but out of respect to residents because of sometimes prolonged activity, it was moved to beginning.
“The reason we moved that up,” said Brobst, “is that people were repeatedly coming to meetings (to address a concern), but got frustrated because comments were at the end of the meeting. We respect your input and had an internal discussion on how to improve that.”
In response to citizens’ requests, the township will again provide hard copies of the agenda prior to the start of the meeting and notify residents of the agenda and changes when possible. Brobst said discussions will continue on improving methods of communication between the township, residents and trustees.