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When it comes to meetings, we need some middle ground

Look, I know how this works.

If you write a column for a living, most people expect you to be a know-it-all.

Well, I'm here to freely admit I don't know which is better.

In the middle of May, I mentioned in a column that virtual government meetings, particularly those by the county, were beginning to run long.

I surmised that the virtual nature of the meetings -- being that most of the players involved were already sitting in their homes -- made long sessions easier because, when they're done, they just log off and go to sleep.

Most virtual meetings have been about two hours, but there was a nearly four hour and thirty minute meeting in May.

I don't care if you're having that meeting while sitting in a lounge chair on the beach, that's probably too long to be trying to do the people's business.

Or, at least I thought.

After reading a story in the Butner-Creedmoor News, recently, those two and -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- four hour meetings seem like flashes in the pan compared to a recent spate of meetings by the Creedmoor Board of Commissioners.

According to the paper:

• The April 20 meeting lasted four hours and 50 minutes, before going into a 45-minute closed session. After coming out from that, the board recessed its meeting until April 27;

• On April 27, the board met for another three hours and 35 minutes;

• On May 11, the board met for FIVE hours and 55 minutes, BEFORE going into a 20-minute closed session. At that meeting, the town manager presented the board with a draft budget;

• On May 18, the board met for two hours and 45 minutes -- a veritable mad dash compared to the previous sessions;

• On June 2, the board met for three hours and 15 minutes, recessing that meeting until June 8;

• The June 8 meeting lasted FIVE hours and 20 minutes, followed by a 45-minute closed session. By the fifth hour, according to the paper, the board recessed again, this time to June 10. That June 10 meeting was recessed again to June 17.

Those June marathon sessions were primarily about the budget, which got me thinking about the budget approval processes for governments in Franklin County.

Let's just say the sessions in Franklin County were sprints, instead of marathons.

• In Bunn, commissioners met in early June when staff presented the budget -- taking about half an hour, tops.

After a public hearing that didn't generate any public feedback, the board adopted the spending plan.

• In Franklinton, management presented commissioners with a budget proposal that didn't generate a bunch of discussion about the figures, themselves.

Town commissioners adopted the budget a short time later.

Essentially, the same was true for Youngsville and Louisburg, having budget sessions prior to approval, but by no means were marathon sessions involved.

• Franklin County commissioners approved its budget relatively quickly and simply, too, with only one commissioner hoping to have a bit more input before the spending document was approved.

Again, I'm not saying which one is better -- a session of super marathon meetings, or some quick dashes to the budget finish line -- but there should probably be some middle ground.


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