Borough adds additional slot for public comments
Updated: Feb 11
By Chadwick Dolgos
The Crafton council will once again begin hearing public comments at the end of their meetings, after a number of residential complaints.
The decision was made after the borough’s Jan. 14 meeting when local Crafton resident Alice Glasser asked council to begin permitting public comments at the end of each meeting.
“We would always have the comments from citizens at the end,” said Glasser. “I think that once some discussion items are brought up, that there would be some comments that would like to be said at the end.”
Crafton’s council began hearing public comments at the beginning of each meeting when they switched over to the online format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision was then made to take comments on agenda items at the beginning of each meeting and comments on non-agenda items at the end. Taxpaying residents of the borough will be permitted to speak for three minutes, and groups with a designated spokesperson will be allotted a maximum of five minutes.
“We should do the right thing here; we should let people speak,” said Councilman Fred Amendola, who has heard similar complaints from Crafton residents.
The Sunshine Act, passed by the federal government in 1976, requires government agency meetings to be open to the public.
The law requires local governing bodies to permit comments on all items that will be voted on during a public meeting.
If a new item is brought up during the meeting that is not on the agenda, for example, the council must permit comments prior to voting.
“The only comments you must permit at the beginning of the meeting are on the agenda items,” said Solicitor Stephen Korbel, “The comments on any item can take place at any point during the meeting.”
According to Korbel, the President of the council has the discretion to set up public comments however they choose as long as the format complies with law. A majority of council could direct it to occur in a different manner, if they disagree with the president’s format.
“As long as you’re allowing agenda item comments before you’re voting on anything, you can set it up however you want,” said Korbel.
The meeting format was updated for Crafton’s Jan. 28 council meeting.