Parkersburg councilman says public forum resolution will not be coming back in the near future

WTAP sat down with Parkersburg council member Mike Reynolds to better understand the future of a resolution involving public forum.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 12:05 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - At Tuesday night’s Parkersburg City Council meeting, multiple people voiced concerns over proposed legislation that would limit public forum to agenda items only.

The resolution ended up not being voted on due to a council member pulling her sponsorship.

Since then, WTAP sat down with the council member who wrote the resolution to see what the future of the legislation is, if any.

Mike Reynolds said he’s looking into possibly bringing back the legislation in the future, but doesn’t see it coming back anytime soon. And, if he does bring it back, it will be altered, possibly addressing more issues he sees with public forum.

When asked what brought the legislation about, he told WTAP that he’s been tracking what’s talked about at public forum for about four months. He said, in that time, 70% of the issues discussed were not on the agenda.

“We found out that we weren’t really hearing from people regarding the $38 million budget or any of the things that we had that we were kind of working on,” he said.

Reynolds also said their public forum isn’t currently the best avenue for the public to get a response.

He pointed to the current format in which council simply listens and doesn’t respond and that members aren’t always clear on what district speakers live in nor how to contact them afterwards.

Reynolds added that the administration is working on a way to track issues, where people would get a response from the administration.

“Let’s say they have a big pothole in the street in front of their house and they’re tired of hitting that pothole. Well what they would do is they would download this app, they would voice their concern or their issue on that app, and then everybody that’s involved with that - it could be the council person, it could be the mayor, it could be the public works director, it could be the street department but that person that made that complaint can track that as it gets sent to the street department, they could tell them ‘okay the pot hole’s been filled today’....,” he explained.

Reynolds said the support for Tuesday’s legislation simply isn’t there to bring it back in the near future.

“I felt like this was the first step to try to make the public forum better and I knew that if it wasn’t voted for - or I knew that, if the support wasn’t there to make that change, then the support wouldn’t be there to change it in any fashion,” he said.

Reynolds expressed that he doesn’t think public forum serves the community well with the way it currently works.

Locals have criticized the original legislation, saying it doesn’t allow for legitimate issues not on the agenda to be brought up at council meetings among other concerns.