Rules established for public to make comments during Mifflin County Commissioners meetings

LEWISTOWN – In an effort to conduct public meetings in an orderly fashion, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a resolution establishing guidelines for public participation and comment during commissioners meetings.

“The Board of Commissioners seeks to fully comply with the ‘Sunshine Act’ of July 3, 1986, as amended by providing a reasonable opportunity at each public meeting for residents and/or taxpayers of Mifflin County to comment on matters of concern,” Board Chairman Mark Sunderland read from the resolution. He added the reason for the guidelines is so meetings can be conducted in an orderly manner and to provide for public participation.

The resolution contains the following rules and regulations:

“There will be provided at the beginning and/or end of the agenda of each public meeting an opportunity for residents to make comments on matters which may be before the board of commissioners.”

“Comments will be received after the commenting party (speaker) is recognized by the chairman conducting the meeting. The speaker shall announce his/her name and address prior to addressing the board.”

“The chairman may rule out of order scandalous, impertinent, irrelevant and redundant comments or comments made for the purpose of disruption or needlessly protracting the proceedings.”

“The chairman may request any individual to leave the meeting when that individual does not observe reasonable decorum. Further, the chairman may contact law enforcement officers to remove a disorderly person when his/her conduct interferes with the orderly progress of the meeting.”

“The chairman may call a recess or adjournment to another time when the lack of public decorum interferes with the orderly conduct of the meeting.”

“The chairman may allocate available time among individuals wishing to comment not to exceed five minutes. Those limitations may be altered at the chairman’s discretion.”

“A group of citizens registered to address the board on the same issue may be required to designate a spokesperson.”

“Audio, video or stenographic recorders may be used to record all or portions of the meeting, only with prior notification to the chief clerk. The operator of any recording device shall remain seated in the area set aside for the general public so as not to interfere in any way with the activities of the Board of Commissioners or the ability of the general public to observe the board.”

“In the event of insufficient time for all public comments, the Board of Commissioners may continue the public comment to its next regular meeting or to a special meeting occurring in advance of the next regular meeting.”

“The reason for this,” Sunderland said, “is that sometimes when people are addressing the board, there are side conversations going on and when that happens, you don’t have our full attention. We have the authority to make this comment only, but I don’t want to do that. I still want to allow for questions. This needs to be done so we can operate more smoothly.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

Approved an amendment to the Blue Mountain Drive tower lease agreement with AT&T Wireless to add additional equipment to the tower. Emergency Services Director Phil Lucas said the addition of equipment will increase AT&T’s rent on the tower from $900 a month to $1,900 a month.

Approved a grant agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to provide reimbursement for training costs associated with providing training to first responders in the amount of $3,600.

Approved the following offers for parcels currently in repository for unsold properties: $300 for a parcel in Lewistown Borough; $300 for a parcel in Lewistown Borough; and $275 for a parcel in Wayne Township.

Approved real estate tax refunds for a parcel in Decatur Township which was destroyed by fire, in the amount of $878.57; and a parcel in Union Township where a building value error has been corrected, in the amount of $198.30.

Approved exoneration of 2014 real estate taxes for the following: A parcel in Oliver Township that was approved for clean and green for 2014 and will be re-billed with the August billing in the amount of $666.90; a parcel in Armagh Township which was approved for clean and green for 2014 and will be re-billed with the August billing in the amount of $1,076.59; and a parcel in Armagh Township that was approved for clean and green for 2014 and will be re-billed with the August billing in the amount of $333.45.

Approved an agreement with Bloomsburg University for the Emergency Management office to sponsor an intern for the summer. The agreement is for a five-year period which would allow interns in the future.

Approved a memorandum of agreement with Clear Concepts Counseling to provide appropriate treatment, linkages and referrals as deemed appropriate for participants of the Mifflin County Juvenile Treatment Court.

Approved resolutions for updating signatures for the following county accounts: Safe Driving Program, Payroll, General Account, Capital Reserve, Liquid Fuels Tax Fund, 911 Telephone Account, Offenders Supervision Fund, Counseling Fees, Hazardous Materials Emergency Response, Safe Driving Payroll, CDBG, Home Program, Treasurer State Account, Correctional Facility Inmate Commissary, and 911 Wireless. Sunderland said the update was needed due to the county having a new treasurer, first deputy treasurer and second deputy treasurer.

Approved with regret the retirement of Charles Angney as a sheriff deputy effective March 28.

Approved the promotion of James Drayer from part-time to full-time sheriff deputy effective March 31.