Night or day: When does county council meet?

Life on The Circle will return to normal starting Tuesday, Jan. 5. That’s when Sussex County Council goes back to its morning meeting schedule.

From that date on, all meetings will move from 3 p.m. to 10 a.m. with most public hearings following in the afternoon.

That was the schedule for at least the past 30 years, before Councilman George Cole started to raise a ruckus about morning meetings. He wasn’t too happy about the afternoon-night meetings either. Some public hearings didn’t start until 6 p.m.

Some new members of council supported Cole and meetings were changed to the afternoon.

It wasn’t long after the change that council started grumbling again about making another change. That followed a detailed report compiled by Deputy Administrator Hal Godwin revealing that issues drove public attendance more than the time of day or night the meeting took place. The 3 p.m. schedule, with some 6 p.m. public hearings, lasted nine months.

“If it’s important, they’ll come no matter what time we have the meeting,” said Councilman Sam Wilson.

Councilman Mike Vincent said he received a lot of complaints from his constituents in the Seaford-Laurel area that they were shut of public hearings because they work at night.

Plus, as council members are quick to point out, all council meetings are broadcast via the internet.

So breaking with tradition – almost every other governmental body in nonresort areas meets at night – council is going back to day meetings.

One good thing is that county staff will not be getting paid overtime to attend meetings.

But, with apologies to Mike Vincent, it’s a known fact that most people who work do so when the sun is shining. Under the former schedule, members of the public had a fighting chance to attend a meeting here and there and attend public hearings at night. Now that chance has been taken away.

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