Rules and Bylaws Committee splits Law Enforcement’s March meeting into its own day due to public’s concerns

About a dozen concerned citizens met county commissioners as they prepared for their committee meetings Tuesday evening, voicing their concerns about the Law Enforcement Committee’s new research project about animal control.

“It is none of your business how we take care of our animals,” one citizen said.

Chairman of Law Enforcement Mike Hill posted on Facebook late last week he had been receiving dozens of angry phone calls from constituents about potential legislation being voted on, including leashes on free-range chickens and a $100 pet tax.

“There will be no vote taken to enact anything on Tuesday, and by the time all the information gathered has been fully vetted there might not even be anything actionable this year,” he posted on January 29.

Even Mayor Rusty Barnett said he received a phone call about the issue.

Several commissioners pointed out the attendees had been misinformed.

“This was just a process that got out too early,” Robin McKamey said. “It is not your fault; it is not our fault.”

The discussion in January’s meeting in Law Enforcement came from Animal Shelter Director Shannon Posada, who brought potential new ordinances and asked commissioners if it was enforceable. The committee voted in agreement to take it on as a research project, and Hill said he had prepared his meeting to begin discussing the first 29 items in the document, seeing which bullet points were reasonable and which were not.

The situation escalated slightly when Hill informed the group he had cancelled Law Enforcement’s meeting for February. He said he did so because of concerns about fire code in regards to having so many people in a small meeting room.

He made the announcement on Facebook Monday afternoon, but neither the concerned citizens nor half the committee got the message.

“I did not even know, and I am the vice chair,” McKamey said.

Ultimately, Rules and Bylaws agreed to split Law Enforcement’s March meeting from the other three, scheduling Law Enforcement to Friday, March 12, at 6 p.m., location to be determined. This is to allow the public ample time to speak about the issue during public comments.

In other topics, Rules and Bylaws revisited a resolution that would limit commissioners’ eligibility to serve on specific committees. A resolution limiting commissioners to no more than two consecutive terms in a committee failed during January’s full commission meeting.

Randall Jenkins suggested changing the current selection process: if any of the three commissioners disagree with a particular placement, the decision then goes to the full floor. Currently, only two of a district’s three commissioners have to agree with a suggested placement.

“It still gives commissioners a chance to choose,” Austin Jaynes said.

The motion passed unanimously. The revised resolution will return to the commission during their February 18 meeting.

Because the first Tuesday in March is voting day, Rules and Bylaws, Health and Welfare and Buildings and Grounds agreed to meet on Friday, March 6, at 6 p.m. Meetings from here on will be at the Mayor’s conference room as normal.

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