Patchogue OKs earlier start for meetings

In addition to the mayor's office it houses,

In addition to the mayor's office it houses, Patchogue Village Hall, located at 14 Baker St., is home to the municipality's Justice Court and Traffic Violations Bureau. (April 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Carl Corry

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The Patchogue Village board of trustees has voted to start municipal meetings 90 minutes earlier to increase turnout, much to the ire of residents who believe the switch will have a negative impact.

The Monday night resolution passed 5-1, and starting in January, village meetings will move from 7:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Village Mayor Paul Pontieri hopes making the meetings an hour and a half earlier will entice more residents to attend meetings before settling in at home after work. Residents are busy when they get home, and the chances of them leaving for a municipal meeting are slim because of household chores, the mayor told the audience, basing his assessment on years of political experience.

But several residents at the meeting disagreed with the board, saying an earlier meeting time will keep others away.

"Most people that commute don't get home from work until 6 p.m. because of horrific traffic and scheduling," said resident Laureen Prendergast, who suggested moving up the public-hearing portion of the meeting to draw more people.

"I'm not sure the time of the meeting is causing very little participation," said Jo Miller, who attends most village meetings.

Between 15 and 20 residents regularly attend meetings.

"There's a great deal of people who don't find the meetings interesting," said trustee Jack Krieger, who voted in favor of the change, noting every resident won't have trouble attending.

Trustee William Hilton opposed the decision. "So many people in the audience spoke out, and we're here for them. I don't know what the answer is to get more people to attend meetings," he said.

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