City Council voted to change the way its meetings are structured, adding an additional evening meeting most months. Evening meetings will also begin a half hour earlier, at 6:30 p.m.
The changes were proposed by Council members at a strategic retreat. The shift is intended to focus the first part of the evening meeting on measures that are actionable by Council, allow more people to speak earlier in the evening about those timely issues, and to more effectively address concerns raised during Council's open comment period.
In particular, the addition of the business meeting on the fourth Wednesday of most months was designed to:
Reduce the number of items on the agenda for each meeting, shortening meetings
*Allow ample discussion on each public hearing item
*Get proposals before Council more quickly
*Allow more informational presentations to move to evening meetings, when more members of the public are able to attend.
Shifting some of those presentations that had been given in the afternoon is also expected to allow the twice-monthly afternoon work sessions to be more strategic in nature and facilitate in-depth discussion.
To accommodate an earlier time for the public on scheduled public hearing topics - generally a larger audience - the open public comment portion of the meeting will be moved to the end of the meeting. This flexible time frame will also allow speakers who have questions to receive more prompt answers.
The changes were approved Aug. 13 and will begin with the Sept. 10 Council meeting.