FLINT TWP. — For the second time this year, the township board has rejected a request to change its meeting time.
Treasurer Lisa Anderson presented a request to the board to move its twice monthly Monday meeting time to 6 p.m. from the longstanding 7 p.m.
Anderson cited several reasons including that the majority of board meetings are attended by retired and/or senior citizens; during winter months it is dark at 7 p.m. and an earlier meeting would end earlier; staff routinely attend board meetings, making it a long work day for those who do not go home between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. when the work day ends and the township board meeting begins.
Anderson also said that consideration should be given to presenters asked to attend board meetings after their work day ends.
“This list is not exhaustive but gives some insight into the thought process,” Anderson said.
She noted that the board considered the time change months ago but could not agree on the new time which ranged from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“We listened to residents who indicated they did not want the meetings during working hours,” she said. “We heard from the businesses who had concerns that starting before the end of the work day would not allow them ample time to attend the board meetings.” Anderson said that several board members supported moving the meeting time to 6 p.m., effective at the next meeting on August 7.
But when it came to the vote, the motion was defeated 4-3 with Supervisor Karyn Miller casting the deciding vote. Anderson and Trustees Carol Pfaff-Dahl and Tom Klee, all of whom were elected to the board last November, cast the three votes in favor or the change.
Longtime Trustee Frank Kasle said he voted against the change because it sounded more like it was for the convenience of board members than the convenience of citizens.
“It seems to me that the convenience of citizens is more important, ”Kasle said to applause from the audience. He also said that board meeting have been held at 7 p.m. for at least 40 years. He said he needed to hear a better reason than the gap between the time the work day ends and the board meeting begins. The time can be used to go out for dinner, he said. He also said that residents are accustomed to the 7 p.m. meeting time.
Clerk Kathy Funk also gave her reasons for voting against the change.
“I did my homework,’’ she said. Of 27 municipalities in Genesee County, the majority (55.56 percent) meet at 7 p.m. The rest meet at various times. Many of those meeting later in the evening also have large senior populations, she said.
Taking her research a step further, Funk said she calculated that the average board adjournment time last year was 8 p.m. and so far this year it is at 8:12 p.m. She also noted that half of the board is new, accounting for additional time needed to take care of business.
Funk said she discussed the adjournment time with seniors “near and dear to my heart” and they don’t attend board meetings but don’t object to being out and about at 8:12 p.m. in the evening.
Audience members again applauded when the motion was defeated.