Editorial: Don't let Long Term Advisory Council's hard work go to waste

Since March of 2017, Carroll County’s Long Term Advisory Council has been meeting roughly once a month. The group was assembled by the Board of County Commissioners as an advisory board to help provide long-term context to decisions made by the commissioners.

Seven clusters — agriculture; business; education; technology; recreation, arts and community services; health and wellness; and public safety — have been working to look at trends in their areas of expertise, and ultimately plan to present their work to the commissioners.


Last week, the group debated the best way to present the information. Members’ suggestions ranged from each sector giving a five- to 10-minute presentation to before the county commissioners to recording a podcast that would make the information more accessible to not just government officials, but also the public. Some members of the technology cluster, for example, lamented that they had already culled down a 37-page report from their months of work into a short presentation for the rest of the advisory council, and wondered if the efforts might be lost if presentations are too short.

Perhaps there is a way to achieve all of those things. Certainly, there are very engaged members of the public who would be interested to see the full reports developed by the members of each cluster. In the interest of openness, we would love to see the county government publish each of those reports on its website, making that information accessible to anyone who wishes to review it without requiring a Public Information Act request.

However, in the interest of brevity and holding citizens’ attention, a shorter “highlights package” sort of presentation at a public meeting, with information on how to access more in-depth reports, seems suitable to reach a broader base of individuals.

We must admit, though, we also like the idea of recording a series of podcasts or YouTube videos that have a more long-form breakdown of each cluster’s findings. This would allow members of the public to access this content on-demand, rather than having to attend a public meeting that may require them to take off work or dedicate an evening of their already busy lives. (That’s not to say a public meeting shouldn’t take place, too, but the more people who can access the information, the better.)

There was some discussion regarding whether the Long Term Advisory Council should present its findings to the sitting commissioners who created the group or wait until the incoming Board of County Commissioners is seated following November’s election. While there is certainly an argument to be made to present the findings to the current board, it would have very little time to use any knowledge gleaned from the advisory council.

Rather, it makes far more sense for the next board, which will have at least two new members, to hear these presentations at the beginning of their four-year terms and be able to apply it to any future decisions. If the members of the advisory council believe they “owe it” to the current board to present their findings, so be it, but it would be foolhardy not to make sure incoming commissioners were also brought up to speed.

We appreciate the time and effort that has been put in by the members of the Long Term Advisory Council and would hate to see their work go to waste. Making sure it is accessible not only by elected officials who may put it to use, but also citizens and voters who may use that information to hold those same elected officials accountable for future decisions, ensures it was a worthwhile endeavor.