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updated: 1/15/2014 3:58 PM

Wauconda officials may shift public comment to start of meetings

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  • Doug Maxeiner

      Doug Maxeiner


Wauconda village board meetings have a reputation for being lively, with trustees and audience members taking part in earnest discussions.

But if there's something residents or business owners want to say about issues not on the agenda, they have to wait until a public-comment section near the end of a meeting.

That soon could change.

Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner has proposed moving public comments to near the start of meetings.

The change would make the experience more convenient for residents, Maxeiner said.

"Sometimes we get members of the public that want to make a comment and leave without having to sit through the entire meeting," Maxeiner told the Daily Herald.

Shifting public comment to the top of the agenda also would allow trustees to consider the public's point of view before votes, Maxeiner said.

Maxeiner and the board discussed the possible shift during a committee-of-the-whole meeting Tuesday. The board took no formal action, but trustees seemed to favor the proposal.

Most government agencies in the Chicago area allow audience members to speak about pertinent issues for a few minutes at the start of meetings. Some allow public comment at the beginning and end of meetings.

Maxeiner proposed allowing public comment after attendance is taken through roll call.

Trustee John Barbini likes the idea.

"It would be good to hear the public's opinion on the agenda items you're going to vote on before the discussion and before the actual vote," Barbini told the Daily Herald.

Wauconda Trustee Ken Arnswald agreed. But he'd prefer the segment to be scheduled after any public recognition or award presentations, so the honorees can leave before any political debates begin.

"There are times when some of the public comment may be lengthy," Arnswald said. "If they want to leave, let them leave. They don't have to sit through the comments."

Officials also discussed whether the board's current meeting schedule can be improved.

Trustees and the mayor gather for voting meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month. They meet as a committee of the whole for discussions on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

Smaller committee meetings are held as needed.

Arnswald said he'd like to see more committee-of-the-whole sessions and fewer smaller committee meetings. That would reduce a layer of bureaucracy, he said.

Trustee Terri Burke likes the current meeting structure. The board is dealing with a lot of important issues now, and combining them into a single agenda would prolong meetings, she said.

"You'd be there for hours," Burke said in an interview.

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