Sussex County Council will still meet in the early-morning light.
By a 3-2 vote at its Jan. 28 meeting, council turned down a motion to change all meetings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with public hearings starting at 6 p.m.
The measure was pushed by Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, and Councilman Vance Phillips, R-Laurel, who voted in favor of the change. Council President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, and members George Cole, R-Ocean View, and Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown, voted against the change.
Deaver and Phillips said night meetings fit more residents' schedules and would improve attendance at council meetings.
Cole, who has served on council for 28 years, said residents have the option to attend planning and zoning meetings at night. In addition, he said, residents can view meetings on the internet. And on most matters, he said, people find a way to voice their concerns to council members.
Wilson said he was concerned about the extra cost the county would incur by paying overtime to staff to attend meetings after normal business hours. “And we get no more people at night than we get during the day,” Wilson said.
Deaver disagreed. “When we changed to daytime meetings, we started seeing fewer people,” Deaver said. “A lot of people are missing out on what is happening in their government.”
Deaver said a recent Cape Gazette poll showed that 74 percent of respondents supported a switch to night meetings.
Phillips said he made a campaign promise to voters when he first ran for office in 1998 that he would support night meetings.
Over the past two decades, council's meeting schedule has varied to include night meetings, day meetings and a combination of night and day meetings.
Meetings will continue to start at 10 a.m. with land-use application public hearings at 1 p.m.