There are never many residents at these morning special meetings, usually held at 8 a.m. The meeting is publicly announced only 24 hours ahead of time. I imagine that it would be difficult for someone who works nights or who has kids to make it to such a meeting.
So, when some member of the public, like myself, does show up and has a question about a tax that they would have to pay, I think it would behoove the public body to take time to answer it.
Bowling did say that I could ask my question after the meeting, but by that time Coffey had already left. Many times when I have tried to ask Bowling a question after an open meeting, before an executive session, he has told me he doesn't have time or has asked me to make it quick. Usually, I only get to squeeze in one question.
I'm not sure how the commissioners plan to get the word out about the taxes they are proposing, but I think one way to start is to answer citizens' questions.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought they decided not to allow the public to speak or ask questions because time prevented it. After all, the commissioners have jobs and other things to do in their day.
Then I watched as the discussion disintegrated into comparing the garbage fee to catfish, and how maybe the fee should be called the "Jamey-and-Terry fee," after commissioners Jamey Gay and Terry Crowley who are proponents of recycling.
I listened as Gay and Bowling had a 20-minute discussion about the upcoming economic summit and Vision 20-20 meetings. Those items were not on the agenda and should not have been discussed at all.
I hope that the mayor and city commissioners will learn from the uproar that a proposed payroll tax increase created in Boyle County. Residents don't like the idea of government asking for more money, in whatever form - tax or fee. Judge-Executive Tony Wilder implored people to give him input and ask questions about the county's financial problems, and the public still raked him over the coals.
I doubt taxpayers will tolerate officials who aren't willing to take questions or listen to comments.
Sure, residents are invited to air their opinions and ask questions at the regular meetings held at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. The city usually puts the "Hear the Public" item at the very end of the agenda, so residents who do want to speak have to sit through an hour or two hours of meeting before they get to speak.
I hope in the coming months the commissioners will reflect on the organizational chart that they reviewed at their meeting Wednesday. At the top, in charge of the commissioners and the mayor, are the citizens.