Monday evening the Plymouth City Council discussed the request to consider compensating Plan Commission and BZA members as a way to incentivize them to attend their monthly meetings.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi told members both the Plan Commission and BZA heard the recommendation of Fred Webster to stipend members as a way to encourage their participation in the meeting. Webster is one member of the 12-member Plan Commission and an alternate on the 5-member Board of Zoning Appeals. During their July meetings, he suggested the idea because both boards seem to have issues getting enough members present to have a quorum.
During the Council meeting, Mayor Senter asked if council members had any comments.
Councilman Robert Listenberger asked if there was difficulty getting citizens to fill the board positions and Mayor Senter said some of the members are just not showing up.
Councilman Jeff Houin said he didn’t have a strong feeling either way although he wasn’t sure a stipend was the way to solve the issue. He asked if the board has tried to police themselves or if they can dismiss a board member who fails to attend a certain number of meetings.
Mayor Senter said he did remove a Plan Commission and BZA member on Monday. He commented that the member travels much more for business and isn’t available to attend the meetings.
Attorney Surrisi said Plan Director Ralph Booker had helped the boards great some rules of procedure a few years ago. There was talk of reviewing those rules and proposing some amendments to allow the board to take some action or implement them.
Listenberger also asked if members are allowed to attend the meetings electronically. Surrisi said they adopted the same electronic meeting policy the council did, so there are restrictions on how often and how many meetings can be online.
Councilman Randy Longanecker is the city council’s appointment to the Plymouth Commission. He said he’s missed a few meetings because the notice and packet information went into his spam folder. He said he would like to see the time changed for the meetings.
Bill Walters is a Plan Commission member and said he’s thought a lot about the suggestion since the meeting. He said he doesn’t think a stipend is a right way to go. He believes it should be handled internally. Walters explained that if a case comes before them and the petitioner brings an attorney or architect with them it’s costing them money even if there isn’t a quorum and we can’t make a decision. He said members need to come or resign if they can’t make the meetings.
Councilman Greg Compton said, “I believe in the volunteer system. It’s good for our government, society, and charity. I like to see it continue as a volunteer board.”
Mayor Senter said he thought the issue might be something for another committee to review. He also said he had spoken with Mr. Webster about two weeks prior but didn’t know he was going to bring it up at the Plan Commission and BZA meeting. Senter said, “I didn’t appreciate that.”
No action was taken following the discussion.