SNOW HILL – Though no explanation accompanied the change, the Worcester County Commissioners last week began making board appointments in open session.
At the end of the Feb. 2 regular meeting, the commissioners approved the appointment of several citizens to county boards. In the past, such appointments have been made in closed session.
Kim Moses, the county’s public information officer, said following the meeting the change came after a review of policy.
“As part of ongoing efforts to improve efficiency and transparency, we periodically review our policies, and during the most recent review of meeting procedures the decision was made to conduct board appointments in open session,” she said.
The county commissioners are tasked with appointing members to an array of committees, many of which have been in existence for years. The commissioners appoint local citizens to more than 30 committees, ranging from the planning commission to the building code appeals board. While those like the board of zoning appeals are well known, others, such as recreation advisory board and the board of electrical examiners, are more obscure. Nevertheless, the commissioners are charged with maintaining the membership of each committee. Appointments to the various groups are staggered throughout the year. Committee size and term length varies.
In addition to the committees with appointments made by the commissioners, there are others. Five committees, including the Worcester County Board of Election Supervisors, have their members appointed by the governor. Two committees, the board of education and the child fatality review team, don’t fall into either of those categories. Board of education members are elected while the membership of the child fatality review team is designated in state law.
County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic was thrilled the appointments were now being made in front of the public.
“I think it’s an awesome thing,” he said. “I’m a huge advocate of open meetings. Anything that can be done in front of the public should be done in front of the public.”
According to Mitrecic, the change came after Maureen Howarth, the county’s new attorney, recommended it.
“We were advised by our legal counsel that’s the way it should be done,” he said.