Board considers public comment policy change

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) plans to vote on a policy concerning public comments during meetings.

Board members announced Thursday they will vote on the policy, which will require those wishing to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting to give the board prior notification, at their next scheduled meeting.

A letter from Board of Public Utilities superintendent Bob Disch to city Law Director Charles Payne was provided to the media. In the letter, dated April 22, Disch tells Payne the BPU currently has no policy concerning who is allowed to speak and for how long. Furthermore, Disch’s letter states the board is often unaware of the cicumstances as to why members of the public are there to speak.

“(We) feel that time is not always well spent,” reads Disch’s letter.

Board members previously instructed Disch to draft a proposed rule and present it to Payne so as to “be sure we are not limiting the rights of people to address the Board.” According to his letter, Disch notes he partially based the proposed policy on the rules which city council and the East Liverpool Board of Education uses at their meetings.

Disch’s letter closes by asking for Payne’s opinion as to whether any of the proposed policy would “place unreasonable conditions on persons wanting to address the Board.”

According to a draft copy of the the proposed policy, also provided to the media, those wishing to address the board during the public comments portion of the meeting must be customers of the water department or waste water treatment department.

The person wishing to speak must also be present when the public comments portion of the meeting begins, and not show up late.

The policy also states that those wanting to speak should let the board know 48 hours in advance by coming to the office in person or by mailing a letter to the board.

If the public does not comply with the policy it will be left up to the board’s discretion whether or not they are allowed to speak during public comments.

A full copy of the board’s proposed policy will be posted at the street garage and water department.