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City Council considers earlier start for meetings

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City Manager Joe Neeb, standing, speaks during a Roswell City Council meeting on Dec. 20. From left, seated, are Councilors Angela Moore, Judy Stubbs, Steve Henderson and Caleb Grant, Mayor Dennis Kintigh and Councilor Barry Foster. (Alison Penn Photo)

A new time and day of the week for future meetings of the full Roswell City Council were considered at a special meeting on Dec. 20.

Councilors Savino Sanchez, Juan Oropesa, Steve Henderson, Barry Foster, Angela Moore, Judy Stubbs, Caleb Grant and Jeanine Corn Best shared their varied opinions for day of the week and time of the meetings.

Councilor Jacob Roebuck was present and shared some input, but had to leave before Mayor Dennis Kintigh called on each councilor. Councilor George Peterson was not present.

The council’s consensus was to keep the meetings on Thursdays but move the time up to 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. The councilors were divided (4 to 4) on choosing between 5 and 6 p.m., but Kintigh, who favored 5 p.m., broke the tie on the informal vote.

Kintigh emphasized that no final decision was made at the special meeting, since the council was meeting as a “committee as a whole.” He explained the full council’s monthly meeting is set in an ordinance and, in order for the time or day to change, City Attorney Holloman would have to draft an ordinance for the council to consider. A public hearing would be held before a formal vote.

Kintigh clarified that the council will consider approval to advertise for a public hearing at the Jan. 10 meeting, and would take final action at the February meeting.

Day of week

City Manager Joe Neeb said the plan is for the council to move into the Roswell Convention & Civic Center at 912 N. Main St. — from the Basset Auditorium in the Roswell Museum and Art Center at 1011 N. Richardson Ave. — as soon as the city receives occupancy clearance. Neeb said the construction crew has to move a handrail, but temporary occupancy is allowed in the convention center.

Juanita Jennings, public affairs director, said council meetings on the current day and time could impact two large events to be booked at the convention center.

Neeb said the larger, four-day events usually want to rent the venue to set up on Thursday. Since the council meeting could conflict with these events, Neeb asked the council to consider if the meetings should be moved to a different time or day of the week.

Neeb said Monday through Wednesday usually have scheduling conflicts, such as the beginning of the week or church nights. He said the council’s “marathon-type meetings” on Thursday allow councilors and city staff to have Friday to recover before the weekend. Stubbs asked if it was possible to host the meeting at another location if it would conflict with an event’s set up. Neeb and Holloman confirmed this.

Grant suggested leaving the meeting on Thursday in the convention center and keeping track of conflicts with events throughout the year, since the council is only using one room out of the whole facility. Some councilors voiced agreement with Grant’s statement. Grant said he was also in favor to starting as early as 9 or 10 a.m. because an earlier meeting would be “beneficial to the public as well — because no one gets to public participation on our average on 11 to 12 (p.m.) at night that we are getting done.”

To cut down on the long council meetings, Kintigh encouraged councilors to resolve issues at the committee level and to not pass items on to the full council unless a majority of the committee approves it.

After discussion, all councilors raised their hands for the meeting to remain on Thursday.

Time change

Councilors Sanchez, Oropesa, Henderson and Foster were in favor of 6 p.m. meetings — while Councilors Moore, Stubbs, Grant and Best were in favor of 5 p.m. meetings. Kintigh broke the tie in favor of 5 p.m.

“The public only gets three minutes,” Grant said, adding he wanted to see a restructuring for public participation. “I know people are worried about people showing up to speak, but I think that’s their right to address the body as a whole. So I would like to see that addressed somehow, either we change the way people sign up for timing — but I do think going ‘til midnight doesn’t benefit anybody including us, staff or the public because no one is watching it.”

Foster said the council could allow a 30-minute slot for public participation at the beginning and still have an opportunity at the end for citizens who come later.

Stubbs said she was a part of the council when public participation was placed at end of the meeting with other non-agenda items. She said the regular items have priority and that was the reason for moving the public participation. Stubbs agreed that “none of us are good at 11 at night” and was concerned for city staff putting in overtime after eight-hour days.

Grant suggested 4 to 5 p.m. start times and Best said she was in favor of moving the meeting up to 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. Henderson said 6 p.m. allows time for everyone, from retirees to those in the workforce, to get there. Oropesa said the council’s business will dictate the duration of the meetings and was in favor of keeping the meeting at 6 p.m. Sanchez was in favor of keeping the meeting as is, since there is no way to satisfy everyone who comes to the meetings. Sanchez said he was in favor of an 8 a.m. meeting. Moore said a morning meeting would not work with her job as a teacher or for others with full-time jobs. Moore said 5 or 6 p.m. allows people to get off work, have a meal and run any other necessary errands.

Two meetings

Neeb said there has been discussion about hosting two city council meetings, but said the number of committees may also need to increase.

Stubbs said some councils do meet twice a month and that might be a way to shorten the council’s meetings. Stubbs said in some cases one meeting serves as a workshop for councilors to ask questions and then the meeting with votes is faster.

Remembering his time on the school board, Oropesa said the board used to have two meetings a month and he was not in favor of that. Oropesa said the tendency is to stay late at both meetings and some of the meetings went until 2 to 3 a.m.

After regular items were reviewed, the council went into closed session to discuss limited personnel matters related to personnel realignment.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.