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Forks Supervisors Approve 'Off-the-Record' Workshops

Forks Supervisors disbanded its five committees and instead will meet in a workshop session before regular meetings.

, in a 4-1 vote Thursday night, decided to , as they exist now, in favor of one hourlong workshop before regular board meetings.

“I think this is a mistake,” said Supervisor David Billings, the lone dissenter.

Billings objected because the workshops will not have an agenda, be a part of an official record or be recorded for the public to review.

“I understand the intent is to improve communication between the board and the staff, but the public also has the right to know,” he said.

Chairman Erik Chuss said that the committee meetings were not on the record either, and having five separate committees – Finance & Administration, Parks & Recreation, Public Safety, Public Works and Community Relations – made it difficult for the entire board to follow all the issues within .

In a workshop, the staff would present their reports to the entire board at the same meeting.

“I don’t understand why [the workshop] would need to be on the record,” Chuss said. “No decisions are made at workshops; the public can attend … we’re not hiding anything … and I think recording the meetings would impede [a staff member] from speaking openly.”

Supervisor Robert Egolf, who drafted the proposal, said he spoke to the township staff and they told him they would welcome a single meeting where they could learn what other departments are doing.

“We’re in a situation where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” Egolf said.

As a counter proposal, Billings suggested that the department heads give their reports during the regular meeting so they would be part of the official record available to the public.

“I just want it on the record,” Billings said. “The reality is that the public won’t come to the workshops and there won’t be a record of what was discussed.”

Nevertheless, the motion was made to hold the workshop sessions off the record from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. before regular meetings. The only committee that would remain is the Public Safety Committee, which will meet once a quarter – the second Thursday of March, June, September and December.

That request was made by Police Chief Greg Dorney and Fire Chief Charles Chapman.

All meetings and workshops are open to the public.

The motion passed 4-1.

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