Public Meeting Procedure

It is the public policy of North Carolina and Sampson County Local Government that the hearings, deliberations and actions of the Board of Commissioners and its committees be conducted openly. Except as otherwise provided for by applicable law, each official meeting of the Sampson County Board of Commissioners shall be open to the public, and any person is entitled to attend such a meeting. An official meeting of the Board is defined as any gathering together at any time or place or simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of Board members for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent, of the Board.

Regular Meetings

The Sampson County Board of Commissioners meets generally on the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m., except when this falls on a holiday. If a regular meeting falls on a holiday on which the County offices are closed, the meeting shall be scheduled either for the next business day or such succeeding day as may be specified in each year’s adopted and published schedule or as specified in a motion adjourning the immediately preceding regular meeting. Each meeting provides the attendees the opportunity to provide public comment (see below). *Please note that regular meetings begin at 6:00 P.M.

Regular meetings are held in the County Auditorium located in Building A of the County Complex, 435 Rowan Road in Clinton, North Carolina, unless otherwise advertised. The Board occasionally travels to various meeting locations throughout the county to encourage citizen participation in and support of local government.

Special or Emergency Meetings

From time to time, the Board of Commissioners may determine that additional meetings are necessitated for the deliberation of County business, or due to unexpected circumstances that require immediate consideration by the Board. Notice of special meetings is provided pursuant to the State statutes governing open meetings.

Planning Sessions

Typically the Board, County Manager and key management staff will meet each year for a planning session to set priorities for the upcoming budget year, to evaluate trends and issues, and to formulate long-range strategic plans. This multi-day session is typically held in February and dates are made public in accordance with the State statutes governing open meetings.

Regular Meeting Procedure

Generally, each regular meeting is conducted in the following order:

  1. Call to Order – at the prescribed time, the Chairman (or presiding officer in the absence of the Chairman) will call the meeting to order. A commissioner or guest will lead an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. The Chairman may make announcements of a general nature.

  2. Approval of Agenda – The Chairman will ask the Board and staff if there are any changes to the agenda as published. The agenda is approved or amended by majority vote of the Board.

  3. Roads Issues – Periodically, a representative of the District Office of the North Carolina Department of Transportation is invited to attend to update the Board on issues related to the County’s roadways. The representative will address questions or concerns raised by the Board, and the citizens are given the opportunity to ask questions or offer comments on road-related issues.

  4. Planning and Zoning Issues – Matters related to planning and zoning are considered, which may include rezoning requests, ordinance amendments, proposed planning projects or ordinances. Most of these matters require public hearings, which are duly advertised pursuant to applicable laws.

  5. Presentations and Recognitions – This time is reserved for departmental presentations not requiring action and recognition of honors and achievements by citizens, departments or employees.

  6. Action Items – Those items requiring action of the Board typically begin with any advertised public hearings. For public hearings, the Chairman opens the hearing and recognizes an associated staff member/department head to introduce the topic or purpose of the hearing. The Chairman then opens the floor for comments, beginning with those who have signed up that evening to speak on the advertised matter. Those who wish to speak should come to the podium, state their name and offer comments in a clear and concise manner.

  7. Consent Agenda – Consent Agenda items are items of a routine and recurring nature and may be approved by one motion and vote. At the request of any commissioner, any item may be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered separately.

  8. Board Information – Items are provided to the Board simply for information purposes.

  9. County Manager’s Reports – The Manager provides miscellaneous items of information to the Board that do not require action.

  10. Public Comment Period – A period reserved for comments from the public on topics not otherwise included on that evening’s agenda will be included as an item of business on all agendas of regularly-scheduled Board of Commissioners meetings. The Chairman (or presiding officer) will determine and announce limits on speakers at the start of the public comment period in order to offer all of those who wish to speak the opportunity to do so. Generally, each speaker is allocated five minutes. It is requested that an individual wishing to address the Board during the public comment period register with the Clerk to the Board prior to the opening of the meeting by providing his or her name, address and a short description of his or her topic on a sign-up sheet stationed in the lobby of the County Auditorium. If time allows, those who fail to register before the meeting may speak during the public comment period. These individuals will speak following those who registered in advance. At this time in the agenda, an individual should raise his or her hand and ask to be recognized by the Board Chair (or presiding officer), and then state his or her name, address and introduce the topic to be addressed. Items of discussion during the Public Comment segment of the meeting will be only those appropriate to open meetings. Subject such as personnel, acquisition of real property, and information protected by the client-attorney privilege (typically discussed in Closed Session) will not be entertained. Because subjects of Special and Emergency Meetings are often regulated by General Statutes, there will be no public comment period reserved on agendas of these meetings. The Public Comment segment of the agenda is intended to provide a forum for the Board of Community to listen to citizens; there shall be no expectation that the Board will answer impromptu questions. However, Board members, through the presiding officer, may ask the speaker questions for clarification purposes. The Board will not take action on an item brought up during the Public Comment segment of the agenda and, when appropriate, items will be referred to the Manager or the proper Department Head.

  11. Closed Sessions (as necessary) – There are certain circumstances, as prescribed by North Carolina General Statues, under which the Board may exclude the public from their discussions. These are limited. If a Closed Session is held, the County Attorney or Clerk will announce the General Statute authorizing the Closed Session. Following the Closed Session, the Board will return to open session and take any action necessary.

  12. Adjournment or Recess – The Board may close its meeting by adjournment or recess their meeting to a certain date, time and place as announced.