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1-18-17

Agenda documents now
offered online

At the county, let there be light

by Ivan Foley
Landmark publisher

Platte County took a step into the present.

Thanks for a cooperative effort among the Platte County Commission, the county clerk’s office and the county’s information technology department, accompanying public documents are now available online as part of the commission’s posted meeting agenda.

The county’s step in this direction was first reported in The Landmark’s Jan. 4 issue. The desire for the move was a topic in a meeting among commissioners Ron Schieber, Dagmar Wood and John Elliott with county clerk Nancy Armstrong and her chief deputy, Dorene Disbrow.

The move brings the county in line with transparency actions that several cities, school boards and other public entities in the county have been doing for years.

Speaking at Tuesday’s county commission session, Armstrong said she was “proud to announce” the availability of the documents online with the agenda, posted on the Friday prior to the commission’s meetings.

“The posted agenda has hyperlinks to all documents under consideration for session,” Armstrong said. “Chief deputy Dorene Disbrow worked very hard on that. We’re very excited to let you know we’ve added this without any additional costs to anybody.”

Schieber followed Armstrong’s remarks by saying he is “pleased that the public will be able to go out there and review documents that we are looking at for approval. We are very pleased the public will be able to go out there and if they have an interest in an item they can give us their input. It is much more transparent.”

The commission documents can be found by going to co.platte.mo.us and clicking on the “commission calendar and agenda” tab and following links on the calendar and the posted agenda.

“I’m thankful for the work you have done and elated for the increase in transparency,” Wood said to Armstrong.

In a Jan. 3 meeting with the commissioners, the county clerk and her top assistant indicated a desire to work with the new commission to meet the commission’s request for the documents to be placed online 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 Schieber, presiding commissioner, indicating a desire to have the change ready in time for the next administrative session, which was Tuesday. Armstrong’s office and the IT department had it ready to go, and all accompanying information was posted with the agenda last Friday.

Wood, new first district county commissioner, has 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, 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 at the Jan. 3 meeting with commissioners.

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

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.