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Commission wants more
agenda transparency

by Ivan Foley
Landmark publisher

Increased transparency for items on the agenda at county commission meetings is a topic already being addressed by the new Platte County Commission.

In a meeting with Nancy Armstrong, county clerk, and Armstrong’s assistant Dorene Disbrow, county commissioners expressed a desire to give the general public online access to supporting documents for items listed on the agenda for all county commission administrative sessions.

The county clerk and her assistant indicated a desire to work with the new commission to meet the request and the discussion walked through the commissioners’ expectations and desires on the matter. The indication was the information can be added without great difficulty and the discussion ended with Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, indicating a desire to have the change ready in time for the next administrative session, which is set for Tuesday, Jan. 17.

The county commission would like to see availability of the public information that is supplied to county commissioners on agenda topics be provided in advance to the public.

Dagmar Wood, new first district county commissioner, said that as a member of the general public she had found it frustrating to not be able to follow along with basic information being discussed at a commission meeting, such as the amount of the bid approved for projects, for example. She indicated a desire to have the documents available on the county’s website.

Wood pointed out it would prevent the public from having to chase down information from a department head or other county officials.

“People (members of the general public) don’t have the notebook of information that we have,” Wood pointed out.

“We can do it. The technology is there. It’s just a matter of implementation and the speed that we need to get it on there,” said Disbrow, Armstrong’s chief deputy in the county clerk’s office.

Schieber said: “It would be really nice to go to our agenda, click on some kind of a link and see those documents.”

John Elliott, second district commissioner, also expressed strong desire for the electronic public access to the items.

“It would be helpful to the public to know, as we throw these things around, what we’re doing,” Elliott said.

Such a practice is not at all uncommon. In fact, Platte County is already behind other entities in the county, such as the cities of Platte City, Parkville, Riverside, and perhaps others, in the practice. School districts such as Park Hill and Platte County R-3 also provide agenda documentation. Mid-Continent Public Library District also provides extensive online agenda document access to the general public.

The county officials indicated the plan is to have the supporting documents for each agenda item available through a link on the commission administrative agenda. The commission administrative agenda is typically posted on the calendar page on the county commission website at 10 a.m. on the Friday in advance of the Monday session.