Our Town Board meets twice per month. This means that we are attempting to publish a 25-50 page document every two weeks. We were also criticized by some of our constituents for not publishing at least two days prior to each board meeting-even though the law sets no such requirement. We have been trying to meet that expectation but that makes it even harder to comply with the law. We have also made hard copy of the board packet available at the meeting. Never knowing how many people will be there, we make 20 copies or so. This means that we end up recycling hundreds of pages after most meetings.
For 2013, I am changing the way that we do the board packets. From this point forward, the materials will be available during business hours in a binder in front of the main office at our town hall for all to review. The board will receive those documents by e-mail as I receive them. The board packet will include the agenda, minutes, an expanded Supervisor’s Report that will summarize the materials and several department reports, and the financial report. We plan to publish two days prior and may publish a final version of the packet (that may or may not make it to the Internet) on the day of the meeting.
After your article appeared, I received an email from our webmaster. Apparently, adding an archive function to our site will double the cost of our website. Not sure we’ll go there this year since we didn’t budget for it, but we’ll see.
As someone with a master’s degree in Technical Communications, I value good information presented well. What we do not have with this meeting and production schedule, is time to adequately proof and edit the documents. Spell check only goes so far. As journalists, I’m sure that you and your colleagues at Denton Publications appreciate the value of the editing function.
As a fan of the Freedom of Information Law and as someone who is passionate about state and local government, I will continue to do my best to comply with the new amendment. But, as important as it is, it will never be easy.
Sue Montgomery Corey, Minerva Town Supervisor