In an attempt to make Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings more efficient – and some hope shorter – Hendersonville leaders voted recently to amend the city’s municipal code in order for BOMA and standing committee meetings to start sooner.
Beginning April 1, the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen will begin meeting at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. Each of the city’s four standing committees will begin meeting 30 minutes earlier as well.
The ordinance also ensures that a BOMA meeting can last no longer than midnight.
“The [BOMA] meetings have been going way too long,” said Ward 3 Alderman Russ Edwards.
Edwards co-sponsored the legislation along with Ward 4 Alderman Andy Bolt. Edwards said the long meetings deter people from attending meetings or watching them online.
“And it deters people who have busy lives from wanting to get involved and run for office,” he added.
“They need to start earlier and end earlier,” he said. “It just creates a more professional environment when you do it earlier… and when you start that late it just lends itself to going longer.”
Within the last few years several BOMA meetings have lasted into the next day.
In May, after an April BOMA meeting ended at 3:45 a.m., Ward 1 Alderman Peg Petrelli proposed a resolution that ended meetings at midnight unless two-thirds of the board agreed to extend the time to 1 a.m. That resolution passed unanimously. The following meeting ended abruptly at 1 a.m.
Since then more than seven BOMA meetings have stretched to 11 p.m. or later.
The reason for the marathon meetings depends on who you ask on the divided board.
Aldermen critical of Mayor Jamie Clary say they have to bring up issues during meetings because they can’t get answers otherwise. Others say certain aldermen misuse the meetings to unfairly criticize and put Clary on the spot.
Bolt and Edwards agree something needs to change and say the meeting times are a good place to start.
He and Edwards initially proposed starting BOMA meetings at 6:30 p.m.
Some argued, however, that moving the time up to an hour would mean that committee meetings, which are held right before the BOMA meeting, would have to meet too early for some aldermen and citizens who have work commitments to make.
In the end aldermen compromised and agreed to start the meetings at 7 p.m. They will continue to be held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.
Bolt said he and Edwards are consulting with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) about other ways to streamline the meetings like holding study sessions or work sessions before items come to BOMA, or moving committee reports to the end of meetings.
Beginning April 1, the following committees will meet at the following times. All meetings are held at Hendersonville City Hall, 101 Maple Drive North.
General Committee meets the second Tuesday of the month and will begin meeting at 6:30 p.m.
Public Safety Committee meets the second Tuesday of the month and will begin meeting at 6 p.m.
Public Works Committee meets the fourth Tuesday of the month and will begin meeting at 5:30 p.m.
Finance Committee meets the fourth Tuesday of the month and will begin meeting at 6 p.m.