Wauconda mulling public-comment rules

Updated 4/22/2014 9:52 PM

Wauconda residents who've wanted the chance to speak their minds at the start and finish of village board meetings may be out of luck.

Trustees on Tuesday voiced support for a plan to continue limiting public comment at board meetings to the start of each session. Some residents have asked for two comment sessions per meeting.


However, during the board's less-formal committee of the whole meetings. the proposed rules would allow people to also share opinions on agenda items as they come up for discussion.

At either type of meeting, the mayor would be able to limit the amount of time audience members can speak if a controversial issue arises or if a large group is present, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said.

Officials discussed the rules Tuesday during a committee of the whole meeting. It could approve the plan during next week's voting session.

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 end of meetings, too.

In Wauconda, public comment was moved to the start of board and committee meetings earlier this year. It previously had been at the end of agendas.

There are no published rules for public comment in Wauconda, or time limits for remarks from the audience.

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Likewise, agendas don't include rules about comment content or decorum.

A Wauconda staffer surveyed officials in 12 other suburbs to see how they handle public comment, Maxeiner said.

Barrington, Mundelein and Lake Zurich are among the towns that allow public comment once, at the start of meetings, Maxeiner wrote in a memo on the subject.

Antioch, Libertyville and Long Grove are among the villages allowing public comment more than once per session.

Wauconda Trustee John Barbini is among the board members who like the proposal Maxeiner crafted. Residents have the right to question their government, "but we have business to conduct," he said.

"I think this is fair," Barbini said.

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