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Quarterly reportsPosted Wednesday, January 9, 2008, at 12:30 PM
In recent years, the quarterly reports made by various county departments to Bedford County Board of Commissioners have evolved in several ways.
For one thing, there are more departments expected to report than in the past.
For another, after several instances when a commissioner wanted to ask someone about their written report, only to be told that the department head wasn't present, it's now required that department heads (or someone they designate) be present, in person, to make a brief oral report and field questions.
Finally, the reports have now been disconnected from their original financial function, since much of the financial information they used to contain is now part of Finance Director Robert Daniel's regular reports to the county mayor and commissioners.
Now, once a quarter, the department heads are paraded past. Each one is expected to speak (whether they have anything to say or not) but each is instructed to speak for no more than three minutes. Good thing; there were 19 reports scheduled Tuesday night, so if each of the department heads had taken his or her full three minutes, the quarterly reports would have taken about an hour -- more than that, actually, if you include commissioner questions and the process of one department head walking to the lectern while the previous one sits down.
Here's an unsolicited suggestion. Now that the reports are no longer tied to the county's fiscal calendar, why do all of them need to be made at the same meeting? Why couldn't they be staggered -- six in January, six in February and seven in March? That way, the schedule could be a little more relaxed, the department heads could take more time if they need it, and county commissioners would have more time for questions when needed.
Nobody asked me, but I think it might streamline the report process and make everyone a little more comfortable.
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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