Residents Can Now Submit Public Comments To Town Council Electronically

Photo: Pixabay.com. Creative Commons

Source: amherstma.gov

Clerk of Town Council Athena O’Keefe announced on Thursday (9/23) that Amherst residents can now submit public comments to the Town Council electronically, using this new form. Previously, public comment had to be made in real time at Council meetings. Comments submitted electronically will be distributed to all town councilors, will become part of the official council record, and will be periodically uploaded to the web.

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4 thoughts on “Residents Can Now Submit Public Comments To Town Council Electronically

  1. Streamlining public comment to the Town Council is a step in the right direction, but apparently only a half step. Citizens need access to comments as soon as possible so we may develop a fuller understanding and form an opinion on issues being deliberated by the Council. “Periodically” uploading old comments to the town website does not cut it.

    The Town Council should follow the practice of the Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees and publish all comments received in the next meeting packet so that public input is viewable in a timely manner.

    And while we are on the topic of transparency, when will the Jones Library Board of Trustees begin publishing all public comments, and start posting video recordings of its meetings as the Town Council, School Committees, Finance Committee, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Town Services and Outreach Committee and several other town government boards already do?

  2. I recently had an email discussion with Athena O’Keeffe about the new public comment form for the Council, the publishing of the submitted comments on the Town Council’s web page at amherstma.gov (https://amherstma.gov/Archive.aspx?AMID=257), and whether public comments can also be submitted to the Council via email and then included among the published comments. I mentioned to Ms. O’Keeffe that the Amherst School Committee and Regional School Committee both publish the public comments that they receive via email (those that say “Public Comment” in the subject line).

    Ms. O’Keeffe explained to me that at this time, the Town plans only to publish comments that are submitted via the Council’s new public comment form, and not any email comments as well, even if they are labeled as “public comment.” There are a number of logistical and other reasons for this decision. Being used to the School Committee’s approach on this, I was at first surprised that a comment I had emailed to the Council and labeled as being “public comment” was not then included in a pdf of the public comments submitted to the Council during the same time frame as my email. I bring this issue up here to help alert Amherst Indy readers that if they want their comments to be published on the amherstma.gov web site, such comments need to be submitted via the Council’s public comment form.

    Ms. O’Keeffe also noted that she plans to publish the most recently submitted public comments before each Town Council meeting. And of course, all emails sent to the Council are considered public records and are accordingly subject to public record requests.

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