County Council, school board make right call on meetings

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 18, 2013 

Beaufort County Council and the Board of Education are to be applauded for their decisions to hold more of their regular meetings in southern Beaufort County in the coming year.

The school board will hold fully half of its twice-a-month meetings at the Hilton Head library, while County Council plans to hold six of its 24 meetings in southern Beaufort County.

Yes, the city of Beaufort is the county seat, but it's important that these two countywide entities make it easier for people who live in the Hilton Head and Bluffton areas to attend meetings and address their elected officials.

It is not too much to ask that they hold some meetings in the southern end of the county, nor is it too much to ask of northern Beaufort County representatives and county and school district staff to travel to Hilton Head.

A majority of the county's population lives in the southern half of the county; a majority of the members of County Council and the school board represent southern Beaufort County districts.

This also isn't anything new. County Council started holding some meetings in Bluffton in 2003 and has held meetings on Hilton Head since at least 2000. From 2006 through 2009, the council held three meetings a year in Bluffton and on Hilton Head. Since 2010, four meetings a year have been held in those municipalities. Last year, three meetings were on Hilton Head and one in Bluffton.

The Hilton Head library is equipped for televising meetings on the county channel.

Technology advances have made it easier for elected officials and staff to have the information they need during a meeting at their fingertips in laptops or -- as in the case of the school board -- in iPads.

Objections from some County Council members from northern Beaufort County hint at an unwillingness to accommodate a majority of the county's residents. County Council members are hardly inconvenienced by a periodic change of venue.

This is a long-running debate that should have ended long ago. Regularly scheduled meetings in both ends of the county are the right thing to do.

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