Commission could form committees

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A proposal to create a road committee could lead to the establishment of other groups to help Pike County Commission members gather information.

County engineer Russell Oliver addressed the Pike County Commission recently about establishing a road committee to see where spending could be cut in the department with the least sacrifice of service to the public.

“I just want us to all be on the same sheet of music,” Johnson told the commissioners.

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Commissioners Russell Johnson, Chad Copeland and Robin Sullivan all voiced their support of the committee, but Commissioner Charlie Harris cautioned the commission to look into the legal ramifications before moving forward.

County attorney Allen Jones said that the commission is authorized to establish committees and subcommittees, but it would fall under the same rules and requirements as regular commission meetings.

“The open meetings law applies to meetings of a governing body such as the Pike County Commission and any committees or subcommittees that it appoints,” Jones said. “What that means then is that a committee or subcommittee must comply with the terms and requirements of the open meetings act including providing the public with notice of a meeting, which is a minimum notice of 5 days. In other words, a committee meeting is deemed the same as a regular meeting for Open Meetings Act purposes.”

Jones said that committees are important because they gives commissioners the chance to work together to get needed information without necessarily needing to have all of the commissioners present.

“The purpose of a committee remains important because that eliminates the need to have to have everybody present, or a majority present, to try to get information or just investigate matters and perform traditional committee functions,” Jones said. “And really the basic intent of the Open Meetings Act is to make sure a committee is not formed that functions in circumvention of the open meetings law. There are meetings that are called ‘serial meetings’ where clearly the intent is to meet and circumvent the law and that’s why the Open meetings Act applies, to make sure that doesn’t happen with governing bodies that the law applies to.

“Thus, as it applies to the Pike County Commission, we will comply with the Open Meetings Act fully in the appointment of any and all committees and do it the right way legally.”

In addition to the proposed road committee, county administrator Harry Sanders said that the commission could look into other committees, such as a committee to handle tasks related to constructing a new jail.

The Pike County Commission will meet Monday, Feb. 13, at 5:15 p.m. for their regular work session on the second floor of the Pike County Department of Public Health. The business meeting will follow at 6 p.m. in the same room.