FERGUS FALLS -- An open forum is a dedicated time for the public to address county boards of commissioners in Minnesota regarding county business.
Several of Minnesota’s 87 counties have established open forums, and Otter Tail County plans to have a policy in place on March 10.
Most of these counties with open forums in place have established rules or guidelines that citizens must follow when speaking at a meeting.
Otter Tail County board members noted, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, that in many counties a speaker must notify a particular county at least one day in advance so that he or she can be put on the agenda.
And when a person notifies the county of his or her desire to speak at the meeting, he or she is given a copy of the “rules of conduct” which lists the time limit for speaking and any other limitations.
One example cited by Otter Tail County commissioners on Feb. 25 is from Stearns County, which includes the St. Cloud area.
Individual comments in Stearns County are limited to 3 to 4 minutes. The total allotted time for this open forum in Stearns County, during a meeting of the county board of commissioners, is 10 minutes.
A citizen in Stearns County may speak at the public access forum only once per month. County board members will not engage in dialogue with speakers but rather refer the matter to the appropriate county department.