At Tuesday night’s Huntsville Town Hall Meeting, confusion took center stage.
Several dozen citizenes arrived for what they believed would be a discussion of the proposed 4B Economic Development Corporation that will be on the ballot in the November election. The Agenda posted listed “public discussion” of the matter at least twice; however, attendees were informed that they would only be allowed to listen to City Manager Matt Beniot‘s presentation then submit written questions that would be answered at a later time. Mayor Mac Woodward seemed surprised that any discussion on the ballot initiative was expected. Only after a number of citizens brough up the issue of the Agenda did the Mayor agree to attempt to answer some questions.
Several of the attendees seemed frustrated that questions would not be publicly answered. Repeatedly, those in attendance were told that questions should be submitted in writing (either on the forms provided or via an online portal), that the questions would be answered and posted online on Mondays at a specific website, and that no one would be able to answer their questions at the Town Hall Meeting.
A number of City Council members were in attendance, but none took the floor to answer any questions. Only Mayor Woodward and City Manager Beniot even attempted to field any of the questions asked; most were instructed to submit their requests in writing and await the reply via the website on Monday.
According to the information presented, City staff will accept questions via mail, email, in person, or via a specail page on the City’s website. Questions and answers will be posted for the public to review and the information will be updated weekly on Mondays according to the Mayor.