44 Days Later, Clerk of Council Sends E-mail Response
BACKGROUND: It seems that many resident e-mails are disappearing into a black hole at the County Administration Building these days. On January 12, I requested the instructions for speaking before the Prince George’s County Council, on any topic, as part of their general public hearing process. I could not locate the information on the County’s website, and it took 35 days for the Clerk to provide an initial response, stating that there are no public hearings scheduled before County Council until March 1. Not only was that a completely unacceptable length of time for an e-mail inquiry, the information was also wrong. After contacting my Councilman, Mel Franklin, nine days later (44 days in total), I received a comprehensive response to my question about how the public can sign up to speak at any Council hearing. I thought I would share it with you so we can all become more actively engaged in providing feedback on County issues, especially the upcoming budget process.
Certainly the public, by request to the Clerk, may address the County Council following any Tuesday Council Session. Procedurally, at the conclusion of business outlined on the agenda, the Chair will ask the Clerk if there is anyone from the public who wishes to address the Council. If no one has signed up to speak, the Chair will adjourn the meeting.
Generally, citizens call the Clerk’s Office on 301-952-3600 to indicate their desire to address the Council and would be referred to me. At that time I would ask them to provide their name, address, phone number and brief description of the subject matter they would like to convey. Individuals are all provided a timed (3) minutes with which to make their comments.
If the individual had more to share, they would be asked to perhaps put their comments or concerns in writing and to submit them to the Clerk. In instances when citizens are unaware of the process and have not contacted the Clerk prior to the Session, they would be welcome to approach the Clerk during the Council Session to sign up and would at that time provide the required information. It is always suggested, however, that citizens contact the Clerk’s Office a few days prior to the meeting to confirm the schedule.
When Council is involved with additional evening meetings in conjunction with their regularly scheduled Sessions, the day schedule is often modified to allow a later start for Council’s convening in the regular daytime Session. As we begin the Budget Process and set in the required Budget Hearings, we can most assuredly count on modified daytime scheduling. The night Budget Hearings are scheduled for the convenience of the citizenry and is established for purposes of receiving their testimony regarding budgetary matters that affect the citizens in Prince George’s County.
Although the Council’s Budget Calendar is pending final approval, we can anticipate that the first evening Budget Hearings will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m., addressing the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Budget Public Hearing, followed by the Community Development Block Grant Budget Public Hearing tentatively scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Our draft calendar also presently reflects 7:00 p.m., Budget Hearing on Monday, May 2, 2011 regarding the County Budget, Capital Improvement Program, Board of Education and Constant Yield Tax Rate. The last Budget Hearing is currently slated for Wednesday, May 11, 2011 and will address the same issues scheduled on May 2nd again, for citizens convenience. The Budget Adoption is expected to take place on Thursday, May 26, 2011.
Just as added information, the Council historically is in recess during the months of August and December.
I hope the information was helpful to you. Should you have additional questions about the budget process or your ability to address the Council, do contact me.
Redis C. Floyd
Clerk of the County Council