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Council balks at quorum for committee
Hinesville District 2 Councilman Jason Floyd's offer to be on a committee set off a discussion at Thursday's meeting of whether it should have three members, which would constitute a quorum and require the committee to hold open meetings. - photo by File

A discussion at Thursday’s Hinesville City Council meeting about the concerns of having a review committee meet in open session to discuss proposals for public works contracts got a little passionate.

Council members were asked to appoint two from among themselves to serve on a review committee that will look over submissions from seven companies that are interested in the city’s public works contracts.

"I’d be willing to offer myself as a reviewer. I think I’m pretty good with numbers," said District 2 Councilman Jason Floyd, who works at The Heritage Bank. "And be willing to look at the package on a cost basis and see where to go if y’all are willing to have me, I’m willing to offer myself up for one of those memberships."

Mayor Pro-tem Kenneth Shaw asked if there can be only two elected officials who serve on the committee, and City Manager Billy Edwards replied that if there were any more, it would make the committee meetings a meeting of the city council and would require them to notify the public.

If three or more city council members meet, it is considered a quorum and those meetings must be advertised and held in public, unless it’s an executive session. Those must also be announced in public, and no actions can be taken in executive session.

District 3 Councilwoman Vicky Nelson said it might have to be a quorum because she also wanted to continue to be part of the process from the beginning to the end.

District 4 Councilman Keith Jenkins said he wanted them to be cautious about turning the committee into a quorum and making the meetings open to the public.

When Floyd asked who else other than himself and Nelson wanted to be on the committee, District 1 Councilwoman Diana Reid said that she wanted to be on the committee because she and Nelson had been involved with the process since day one.

"So why have us at the very beginning and then at the end chop us off," Reid asked. "It doesn’t make any sense to me."

"I’ll remove my name," Floyd responded, and Mayor Allen Brown added that "nobody’s been chopped off."

"Well I’m just saying at the very beginning everybody had the same equal opportunity to be involved," Reid said.

"But it was open from day one if anybody was interested. When we initially started, nobody took time out of their jobs to come to these meetings except Ms. Nelson and myself," Reid added. "So I think it’s only befitting that if we started we should be able to see it through to the end. That’s all I’m saying."

After some discussion between the council about the possibility of having all three on the committee and creating a quorum, Shaw said he had concerns about having the contract proposals discussed in a public meeting.

"We’ve got to be very careful, very careful because these str proposals," Shaw said. "That means everybody from the city can come sit in here and listen to what’s going on."

Nelson said that she agreed with Shaw about concerns with the openness of the meeting, but that she still wanted to be on the committee because she wanted to be involved until the end.

After further discussion about who will be on the committee, Floyd said that he only volunteered his name because early in the process he felt he could not offer anything, but with reviewing the contracts he finally felt he could.

"But again, I don’t want to exclude anybody else and I’m of the opinion this probably doesn’t need to be an open session so people feel free to speak freely," Floyd said. "So I will just withdraw myself from consideration and let these two ladies continue on. I think that will be the easiest thing. I wasn’t trying to push anyone out. I didn’t think through the other options. I apologize for that."

Floyd added that he sees the benefit of not having a quorum and if anyone needs his assistance during the process, he did not mind helping outside of a meeting.

The council agreed to keep the committee the way it currently is.

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