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What should the process look like for a public hearing on a proposal such as a construction excise tax?

Room set up:

  • Have the superintendent or facilitator at the front of the room with a podium and microphone, or at the board table.
  • Board members may be seated at a board table or with the audience.
  • There should be a flip chart or two where the facilitator can write questions that come up to be answered later.
  • Make sure the audience can easily see any presentation.
  • Have either standing podium microphones the audience members can walk up to without any blockages, or provide a handheld microphone and a runner to take the microphone to speakers.
  • Use microphones. Someone will always say "Oh I have a loud voice, everyone can hear me." They can't. The board will be criticized for allowing it.

Process:

Superintendent/Facilitator welcomes everyone and gives an overview of the process below.

Process Overview:

  • Superintendent (or other presenter, could be a board member) will give a brief presentation on the topic (5 minutes! 10 max! The audience will get angry if this takes up too much time. This is a HEARING, not a lecture. Your audience has come to speak, not to sit and listen.)
  • The audience will be asked to give their input for everyone to hear.
  • Questions will not be answered tonight. We will list the questions raised by members of the audience on the (board)/flip chart on the facilitators right/left and the answers will be prepared by the board and administration to be posted on our website beginning next X (whatever date works, but SOON).

Ground rules: (The superintendent or facilitator should have these pre-printed on flip chart sheets and posted on the wall as he or she goes through them.)

  • Turn off or silence all cell phones.
  • Each speaker will have 3 minutes to speak. (You are going to need a timer.)
  • Each speaker gets to speak once before anyone is allowed to speak a second time.
  • All comments are to be directed to the facilitator; no debate is permitted.
  • Speakers may not "give" their time to anyone else.
  • Please identify yourself by name before you begin to speak.
  • Stand and use the microphone when you speak.
  • No interruptions will be allowed of a speaker who has the floor.
  • No side conversations in the audience while someone is speaking. Be respectful.
  • No comments critical of personnel, or attacking anyone’s statements.
  • We will end promptly at X pm.
  • Optional: We will take comments alternately from those in favor of the topic and those opposed.

Other recommendations:

  • You may want to provide the ground rules as handouts along with copies of the power point or any other relevant handout materials.
  • Insist the microphone be used.
  • Have an alternate location available, particularly if this is a "hot" topic, in case the crowd is too big.
  • Request that everyone sign in and give their email address. Explain that you will email them the link to the answers to questions raised or send them any update or follow up materials. Be sure you actually do it!
  • Do not allow the facilitator/presenter or board members to get into a debate with each other or the audience. Do not permit any debate between members of the audience. Keep it formal, professional and insist all questions be directed to the facilitator to be listed on the flip chart sheet for answers to be provided later in writing. This is a hearing, not a question and answer session.
For more information on this question, Ask Betsy's Team.