The Greene County Commissioners voted Jan. 2 to change the days of their meetings each month.
Instead of meeting the first and third Tuesday, the commissioners will now meet the first and third Monday of each month. The change will take place in February.
But they didn't change the time of the day each meeting will take place. The meetings will be at 9:30 a.m.
Though that is the time the commissioners have met at for years, some were hoping at least one meeting time would be changed to the evening so people who work during the day could attend.
In a poll conducted on the Greene County Daily World's Web site, over half of the 1,351 voters said they would attend a commissioners meeting if it started after 4 p.m.
The poll asked: The Greene County commissioners meet twice a month, on the first and third Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the courthouse. If the commissioners changed one of their meetings to after 4 p.m., would you attend?
* Yes: 50.2%
* No: 27.6%
* The time of the meeting doesn't matter: 22.2%
The poll was started before the commissioners changed the days of their meetings to Monday.
If the commissioners -- President Bart Beard, along with Kermit Holtsclaw and Steve Lindsey -- had changed one of the times to the evening, there's no guarantee more people would show up.
Normally, very few people show up for any public meeting, even those conducted at night.
But some area counties conduct their commissioner meetings in the evenings.
* The Knox County commissioners meet every Monday at 9 a.m., with the exception of the third Monday when they meet at 7 p.m.
* The Sullivan County commissioners meet the first and third Monday of the month at 7 p.m.
* The Clay County commissioners meet the first Monday of the month at 9 a.m.
* The Owen County commissioners meet the first and third Monday of the month, with the first Monday being at 9 a.m. and the third Monday at 4 p.m.
* The Monroe County commissioners meet every Friday of the month at 9 a.m.
* The Lawrence County commissioners meet the first and third Tuesday of the month at 9:30 a.m.
As you can imagine, the comments on the poll question ranged from it didn't matter when the meetings are conducted to they should be at night.
The following is a sample of some of the comments:
* "In order to be more accessible to the public, a meeting should be conducted during people's non-working hours. This gives the appearance of being open, transparent and interested in public input. This needs to be a common practice, not a try it once and if no one shows up go back to the usual time."
* "It has been my experience that most people will not attend this or any other governmental meeting. They are simply too busy or don't really care."
* "(The Greene) County Council meets at 4 p.m. (and) nobody attends."
* "I would prefer an evening meeting (at) 7, that would allow the greatest amount of access to the public, since many of our residents commute outside the county."
* "If a person has an issue, they can make time to be at the meeting no matter when the meeting is held."
The person who mentioned that no one attends the Greene County Council meetings has a good point. Outside of a reporter from this newspaper and some officeholders, no one else usually shows up.
But the commissioners are the officials who conduct county business. The county council controls the finances of the county, but most things start with the commissioners.
According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce's "Here is Your Indiana Government," it says of the commissioners: "In general, the board of commissioners is responsible for the administration of county business. The commissioners may enact ordinances to meet local conditions and exercise authority vested in the board by the legislature. The base salary for the commissioners is established by the salary ordinance."
Changing one meeting to the evening may not result in more people attending. But it gives people the opportunity if they need to address the commissioners to do so. And they aren't forced to take time off from work.
I tend to agree with the person who made the comment that if someone really wants to address the commissioners about an issue, they will make the time to do so -- and the time of the meeting doesn't matter.
From talking with the reporter from this newspaper who covers the commissioners, there hasn't been a flood of people at the meetings requesting a change in the time.
If you believe a change is needed, attend a meeting and express your opinion.