We like open government.
We like it even more when elected officials do their part to ensure the public has the broadest possible access and input into the discussions that lead to votes that directly impact citizens.
That’s what happened at the Lincolnton City Council meeting on May 1 when first-term councilman Martin Eaddy argued successfully that the council should have its conversation about a package of contracts between the city and Lincoln County in public, rather than closed session.
“I believe the public’s business should be conducted in view of the public whenever possible,” Eaddy said in an email. “While contract negotiations are appropriate for closed session, these specific contracts were between two public bodies representing the same citizens. In addition, the results of an inappropriate agreement have severe consequences for the county citizens that live in the city. I believe a fully informed citizenry can assure the best outcome of these negotiations.”
We agree, wholeheartedly.
Much of the work on the contracts has been done behind the scenes, and officials are still working to bring together the county’s position that the city has underpaid for animal control and 911 call services for years with the county’s need to buy water and the city’s need to sell water.
If the city has been underpaying for its proportional usage of those county services, that needs to be resolved. The water issue and the county services issue didn’t have to be dealt with as a single package, but that’s the way county leaders decided to play it. That’s their prerogative, since they could decide to begin charging the city more for those services at any time, rather than working to come to an agreement with city officials.
We hope the contracts can be quickly negotiated in a manner that is beneficial for the majority of Lincolnton and Lincoln County residents. Opening the process to public scrutiny will help make that vision a reality.