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Hamburg taking more time to change meeting rules

Turns out changing the way Hamburg Town Board meetings are run is not as easy as voting yes.

Supervisor James M. Shaw proposed a six-page document on rules for running board meetings, including when the public could speak to the board. But instead of voting on the new rules Monday night, the board tabled them.

Town Attorney Steven J. Walters told the board during its work session before the regular meeting that the original rules adopted in 1958 were included in a local law. That means the board must conduct a formal public hearing before it rescinds the old rules. The board scheduled the hearing at 7 p.m. March 19.

But residents who felt that their voices were somewhat muted during the first meeting of the year were happy to see that during Monday's meeting, the supervisor called on those who raised their hands, allowing them to speak on resolutions as they were considered by the board.

Some suggested an earlier date for the hearing to rescind the old rules, but at least one board member and the legal department had ideas on what should be in the new rules.

"It's a great first document to get the ball rolling on a process," Deputy Town Attorney Kenneth Farrell said. "There's a number of places where there might be ambiguities and create instances where you'd be in violation of law."

"I believe anyone who speaks in front of our Town Board should be a town resident," Councilman Michael Petrie said. "Unless we invite them in to give a presentation, everybody who comes and takes a kick at the can up there should be someone who's paying us."

"I think the board, if they're going to do it right – it's been 60-some years – should do it right and take the time and make it a process," Farrell said.

The board agreed to give the rules more thought and input before adopting them.

When to talk at Hamburg public meetings: Town supervisor capitulates



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