By Jeff Gallatin
2014 will apparently see the return of town hall meetings for Bay Village government.
City Council President Paul Koomar said at the Dec. 16 council sessions, and reiterated Friday, that he planned to hold a town hall meeting sometime in early 2014. The city has not held one for four years, which some citizens have complained about periodically.
Koomar said he planned to hold the town hall session on a Monday night and blend it with a regular council session. He said the Dwyer Center would be big enough to hold a larger audience in case more people chose to attend because of the town hall meeting.
“We usually have an audience for a council meeting anyway,” he said. “But we would hold the regular council meeting to give people a flavor of what that is about if they haven’t been to one. After that, I would open it up to the council members to discuss the issues before their committees. After that I would open it up for interaction with the council members and the public to discuss issues in the committees or in council members wards.”
Koomar said Mayor Debbie Sutherland and the city department directors would also have the opportunity to take part in the town hall meeting.
Koomar said there also would be time for public questions and interaction, noting there would be the public comment portion in the regular council meeting as well as any interaction between the public and city officials in the town hall session.
“People will have the chance to ask questions about issues,” he said.
Koomar said he has not settled upon a specific time as to when he would hold the town hall meeting, but said he would like to hold it sometime after the 2014 city budget is settled.
“It would be good to have that document ready so we could discuss it as part of the presentation or deal with any questions that people have about what is contained in it,” he said.
Koomar said based upon the current progress of city budget discussions, he said his current estimate would be that the town hall meeting would take place sometime in February, but noted that could change, depending upon final passage of the budget or any unexpected issues coming up.
One citizen who has complained several times at regular council meetings about the dearth of town hall meetings is Jerrie Barnett, a retired schoolteacher who attends most council sessions.
Barnett, who was not present at the Dec. 16 council meeting, was pleased when informed by West Life about Koomar’s plans.
“That’s good. We haven’t had (a town hall meeting) for about four years now,” she said. “Nobody seemed to want to address it when I would bring it up in some other meetings, so I’m glad that we’re going to have one again.”
Barnett said she had not attended the Dec. 16 council meeting because she was getting some rest while also attempting to deal with holiday season issues.
“It can be hectic that time of year, so I was just resting a little rest, but I’ll be back at meetings and I certainly will be at the town hall meeting, whenever it is set up,” she said.