By Emily Bialkowski
If you want to talk during a Houston County Board meeting you’ll need to fill out an agenda request form ahead of time from now on.
The new requirement was adopted at the Jan. 15 board meeting in an effort to help board members better prepare for whatever topic might come their way.
Other municipalities in the area adhere to such a policy; the idea was actually generated after County Auditor Char Meiners requested an audience with the city of La Crescent. She said when she called to get on the agenda the clerk sent her a request form that asked basic questions, such as date submitted, submitted by, issue, justification, action requested, etc.
“I see this as an opportunity for the board to be more prepared and talk to department heads involved ahead of time,” Meiners said.
The board has on occasion been blind-sided by a constituent who has questions or concerns that the commissioners can’t address without further background information or only one side of the story. Allowing golf carts on county highways is just one example of how it took many, many weeks for all parties to get a chance to speak on the matter, as well as the sheriff’s department and county engineer. Had the board and department heads known the item was coming their way, they might have been able to cut down on the number of meetings it took to hash the matter out.
Commissioner Justin Zmyewski said the policy will also avoid having to ask constituents to come back because the board wasn’t prepared to address an issue.
The board expressed favor toward the policy with a unanimous vote.
Those wishing to get on the county board agenda will need to fill out a form describing their issue. The form states, “All agenda request forms must be submitted to the county auditor by 4 p.m. on Monday in order to be considered for inclusion on the following weeks agenda. The board will review all requests and determine if the request will be heard at a county board meeting.”
The form is available at www.co.houston.mn.us/Index.aspx. Constituents may also call the county auditor’s office at 507-725-5803, or visit 304 South Marshall Street, Caledonia, if they can not access the form online.