BBWSD strikes aged public hearings policy

Published on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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In an ongoing review of district polices, Birch Bay Water and Sewer District commissioners have eliminated a public hearings conduct policy they feel is unnecessary.

The commissioners are engaged in a months-long review of district policies with the aim to streamline or eliminate outdated procedures. The deleted policy laid out the structure of public hearings, but commissioners agreed the rules did not necessarily need to be codified.

The policy, last updated in 1984, stated proponents of the issue up for discussion were to speak first, then opponents of the issue would be allowed to make their case. The commissioners would then have time for questions before closing the public hearing, at which time they would take a vote on the issue.

Robert Carmichael, the district’s attorney, said the policy could  throw the district into legal hot water if the rules were not followed precisely. He said a member of the public could have reported the board of commissioners to state officials if they deviated from the policy.

The district typically holds public hearings for rate changes and the annual budget as required by state law. Although advertised in advance, few ratepayers generally attend.