Pictured at the Jan. 7 Highland County commissioners' 2019 organizational meeting are: (l-r) commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton and clerk Mary Remsing. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
Pictured at the Jan. 7 Highland County commissioners' 2019 organizational meeting are: (l-r) commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton and clerk Mary Remsing. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
After a lengthy discussion and conference calls with two attorneys, Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy voted 3-0 to add a Monday meeting to their 2019 schedule.

Abernathy made the initial motion to add a second weekly meeting during the board's Jan. 7 organizational meeting for 2019.

"I'd like to suggest for 2019 we establish both Monday and Wednesday meetings at 9 a.m.," Abernathy said. "I think giving people a second option to meet with us is beneficial to the public."

After the motion and prior to a vote, commissioners discussed the proposal for several minutes.

"Would Monday be more of a day for discussion?" Duncan asked.

"It would give us more opportunity to invite more department heads, Community Action and the public and allow us to ask questions," Abernathy said. "Several of our surrounding counties meet twice a week."

"Does that means we would keep full minutes?" Britton asked.

"Yes, it would be a meeting," Abernathy said. "Minutes wouldn't have to be kept in full detail. By meeting just once a week, when things come up, we would have to have a special meeting."

Britton then asked a question that neither the board nor Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley could readily answer. "If we do schedule this (the Monday meetings), is it something we can change later on?"

"I don't know," Abernathy said. "I don't see why we would want to. I don't know the legal answer."

"I don't see why we couldn't," Duncan said.

"I would think we could do this for a whole year and then look at it," Abernathy said. "I think we can do more – like inviting mayors, so we can be more informed."

"They also can do that on Wednesdays," Britton said. "I'd like to find out if we can change it (the 2019 schedule)."

"I think that would be an Anneka question," Duncan said, referring to Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins.

"I didn't know you were concerned about this, Terry," Abernathy said to Britton. "I wish we could have explored this before this morning."

"I'm concerned about the staff workload and the extra work involved for a second meeting," Britton said.

Abernathy placed a call to Collins.

Meanwhile, Fawley called Rick Hoffman, an attorney and consultant from Findlay.

Both Collins and Hoffman advised that the commissioners may establish a Monday meeting in addition to the Wednesday meeting for the 2019 schedule, and if necessary, cancel the Monday meeting by informing the public and media.

"It's always easier to cancel a meeting," Hoffman said. "I would suggest you set your new schedule, go for a couple of months and if you need to cancel, provide notice. If you want to go back to your original schedule, just notify the public through the reporters. If you want to permanently cancel the (Monday) meetings, that should be done by a resolution."

Duncan later spoke with Collins.

"Her response was just like his," Duncan said. "We're required to have 50 meetings a year."

Abernathy then made a motion that the board meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

The motion (Res. No. 19-03) passed, 3-0.

* * *

• In other business, the board unanimously approved Duncan as board chair and Britton as vice chair. Both will be representing the county with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

Other resolutions that were passed without dissent included:

Res. No. 19-01 – Commissioners rehire county employees.

Res. No. 19-02 – Commissioners appoint CDBG complaint procedure committee.

Res. No. 19-04 – Commissioners as board members for the year 2019.

Res. No. 19-05 – Commissioners establish threshold of $5,000 for county blanket purchase orders.

Res. No. 19-06 – Commissioners designate CCAO official representative and alternate.

Res. No. 19-07 – Commissioners wish to establish rules for public comment for their meetings (no changes announced from previous rules).

Res. No. 19-08 – Commissioners approve travel for commissioners to meetings.