Showdown On The Agenda Passes With No Fight

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By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

A new rule will give the public earlier access to the list of resolutions up for debate at upcoming town board meetings.

The rule change was written by Councilman Ed Smyth in an effort to “achieve greater transparency in town hall.”

In an interview last week, Smyth said resolutions should be available 10 days before the scheduled town board meeting instead of three. The extra time would benefit both the public and the town board members who have to consider the resolutions, he said.

Smyth said the resolutions are usually made available at around 4 p.m. on the Friday before a Tuesday meeting, not enough time for board members or the public to analyze each document.

“Since we’ve gone back to monthly meetings there can be as many as 70 resolutions on the agenda,” Smyth said. “Even if only 30 are substantive, there’s no way you can responsibly vet them.”

His colleagues on the town board approved Smyth’s rule change at Tuesday’s meeting, though not without some negotiation. Councilwoman Joan Cergol, Councilman Eugene Cook and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci voted with Smyth, while Councilman Mark Cuthbertson opposed the change.

“This was originally submitted as a 10-day advance notice, but through some discussion we compromised on a six-day advance notice,” Smyth said during the meeting.

Although he didn’t have enough support to pass 10 days of advance notice, Smyth called the compromise a “good start towards increasing the transparency of the Huntington town government.”

Cergol added during the meeting that the board members “have talked a lot about transparency both at the dais and during workshop.”

“I think we all want transparency,” she said.

The resolution will allow board members to add resolutions to the meeting agenda inside of the six-day advance notice period as a “late starter.” Town procedure requires these resolutions be voted on twice, once to add the late starter to the agenda and again to pass the resolution.

Resolutions submitted late must also include an explanation from the relevant department head justifying the delay and why the matter can not wait until next month.