vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Why is the budget hearing in the board chambers?

In the past, Stafford’s public hearings on the proposed budget have been held in high school auditoriums.  This year though, the April 4 (note, that’s a Wednesday!) hearing will be in the board chambers at the government center. Why?

Board Chairman Susan Stimpson explains why the change was made — and how it is based on past data:

“We believe this provides for a more open process we can live broadcast at the chambers. When we have the hearings at the high school, they are videotaped and played later. Many residents cannot travel or do not travel, for whatever reason. By having the meeting in the chambers, this live broadcasting includes even more residents in the process.

Also, we have had approximately 50 people attend the public hearing the past two years, and, according to the County Administrator, similar numbers the years before. Our chambers accommodate 160 people (triple the amount of people who normally attend) but we are also going to be prepared to accommodate 100 more than that within the building. These extra accommodations will provide citizens the opportunity to view the hearings on tv screens and they will certainly be able to come down to the chambers to speak if they so choose.

Because we have typically had only 50 in attendance, we also felt it was unnecessary to burden the schools with having their staff and crew opening up their site when we can easily accommodate 5x’s the amount of people who normally attend our public hearings.