Changes to Polco, council procedure

BAR HARBOR — Each Town Council meeting here now includes a dedicated time for visitors to introduce themselves to people around them and review a set of meeting ground rules.

The council approved the changes, suggested by town Engagement Coordinator Nina St. Germain, at a meeting in December.

St. Germain also spearheaded the use of online polling platform Polco to collect feedback on town issues earlier this year.

Councilors approved a motion to add a new line item to every council agenda that acknowledges the meeting ground rules poster and to introduce yourself to people around you at meetings.

“We come into meetings [feeling] tight,” St. Germain said, “thinking only of the reasons that brought us here in the first place. Acknowledging each other first is a reminder that on the other ends of these ideas are our neighbors, and that we are all here at this meeting to make Bar Harbor better.”

Councilor Matt Hochman was worried that the change could add time to the meetings, especially if there was a large crowd.

Friedmann made the motion to “start each meeting with one minute when we recognize our neighbors and introduce ourselves to people we might not know and to acknowledge the meeting ground rules poster.” The ground rules poster was drafted last spring using ideas collected during a civility workshop, according to St. Germain.

Another change was to prepare a conduct code for volunteers and appointed officials. This change is in line with the council’s wish to rewrite parts of the handbook for boards and commissions, which was discussed at their goal setting session, according to Town Manager Cornell Knight.

The questions posted to Polco about town issues are decided by a Question Generation Panel appointed by the council. Gary Friedmann was appointed to the panel in December, joining Knight, St. Germain and Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce director Martha Searchfield.


Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

Latest posts by Samuel Shepherd (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.