By Kristin Bednarski
Bethel Village Council members have voted to change the frequency of their meetings. The move came at their Feb. 14 meeting.
They voted to have meetings the second Thursday of each month, rather than the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.
Four council members including Jeremiah Hembree, Donna Gunn, Priscilla Johnson and Amy Planck voted for the change and two council members, Lucy Shepherd and Janice Ireton voted against the change.
Council members began discussions about the meetings a couple of months ago.
At the Feb. 14 meeting, Jeremiah Hembree discussed his thoughts with council members after looking back at meeting minutes from the past several years.
“At the beginning of the year I had reservations,” Hembree said about having one meeting per month. “I’ve looked back over the last few years over council meetings.”
Hembree said he wanted to look at how many times the three reading rule was waived, what type of legislation the three reading rule was waived for and how much public participation there was at meetings over the years.
“Some of the fears that we are going to run over things and rush through things, I don’t think that is going to change much,” Hembree said.
Hembree said in 2011, the three reading rule was waived 70 percent of the time, even with two meetings.
Hembree said public participation has been slim throughout the years, but he found that much of the public participation was directed to a particular individual or committee and not necessarily all of council.
“With the electronic meetings in place, I think we have greater communication than we ever have,” Hembree said.
Hembree said he is also aware that any time council members feel there is something that needs to be discussed or taken into a third reading they can call a second meeting.
“Last but not least, it is saving the village a little bit of money,” Hembree said about only having one council meeting. “I know it is not much, but every little bit helps.”
He said after looking over past meetings, and feeling comfortable that it will not drastically change the workings of council, he decided to vote in favor of the change.
Other council member thanked Hembree for researching previous meetings, and after no further comment, council voted to hold their monthly meeting the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Audio recordings of council meetings, along with meeting agendas, are now available on the village website at www.bethel-oh.gov.