Friday, August 24, 2012

Council Meeting Schedule Changes


At their August 21 meeting, the Provo Municipal Council approved an ordinance (4:1) that moves the start time of their regular meetings Council Meetings from 7:00 pm to 5:30 pm (held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays). The approval also eliminated the need for the Council to hear issues twice (once at an afternoon study meeting and then again at the regular evening meeting). The change will go into effect at the September 4, 2012 Council Meeting. 

Council Members stated various reasons why they supported the changes, including:

Attendance
For most issues, the sparsely attended afternoon study meeting proved to be redundant and doesn't allow the public to be present for the presentations and discussions that are held there. 

Transparency
Moving all the issues that are up for consideration to the evening meeting will increase government transparency by allowing the public an enhanced opportunity to hear all the facts, speak during public hearings and hear the subsequent Council debate.

Timing of Agenda Topics
As more items will be discussed in the evening meeting, the earlier start time will help the Council to retain a reasonable end time to their meetings. General information presentations will be held first with public hearings placed later on the agenda so that more individuals may participate in the discussion. 

Efficiency
The changes should reduce the number of hours that City staffers are required to attend meetings (some of whom are on hourly wages), thereby increasing efficiency and saving taxpayer money. 

Flexibility
The Council will retain the ability to continue issues to future meetings if they believe it is in the best interest of the City. 

Council Chair Laura Cabanilla stated that, “so many times the Council has heard an issue three or four times and so at times the public who hasn’t seen all of that is left wondering how the Council could approve such important issues so quickly. I really believe these changes will provide a better opportunity for Provo’s citizens to understand what is happening.”

After acknowledging the recent shift to a paperless office, Council Member Sterling Beck stated that “the Council office is continually trying new ways to improve the process. This will be done on a trial basis, and if we see that public attendance drops off, we will fix it and fix it rather quickly.”

Council Member Kay Van Buren voted against the proposal. “I supported the reasons for the change but had hoped that we could have established a 5:00 pm start time as originally proposed.” Council Members Hall Miller and Gary Garrett were attending to other commitments and were excused from the meeting.