City council to allow public comment on agenda items at future meetings

Terry Rogers Government & Politics, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

The City of Milford has changed meeting procedures to include public comment

Milford City Council recently updated its council meeting policies and procedures in order to streamline the meetings and to allow the public additional opportunities to address council about their concerns. The new procedure will allow a 15-minute public comment period at every meeting. All public comments must be related to an agenda item and each speaker will be limited to three minutes of speaking time.

“During a workshop and subsequently during a meeting, it was discussed about updating or revising the rules and procedures,” City Solicitor David Rutt said. “And what you have in your packet is what came out of those discussions. So, before the Council on whether you wish to adopt the new rules.”In addition to adding a public comment section, council approved adjustments to the agenda and provided clarification on other rules of conduct for council meetings.

One change that has already been implemented has the City Solicitor handling any public comment portion of a meeting. The changes included a clause that the order of roll call votes would change with each vote. Councilman Michael Boyle asked if that was necessary.

“It is not necessary,” Rutt said. “Sometimes it gives the mayor the flexibility. It could be  amended to say the order of the roll call may be changed at the discretion of the mayor. Because that way, Dan doesn’t have to be first all the time if he doesn’t want to be.” City Clerk Terri Hudson stated that this was included in the previous council rules and procedures as well.

Councilman Jason James stated that he felt that the mayor should be able to take the roll call vote in any order he chose, and Councilman Todd Culotta agreed it should be at the Mayor’s discretion.

“Yeah, I don’t oppose one way or the other but I do understand why. Because they went first ward, second ward, third ward fourth ward. That’s that was the reason why it was done,” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said. “The mayor should have the right to do it any way he wants. But he also has to be aware of who he started with to make life easier for himself. You know what I mean? Depending on the climate of what’s being voted on, you got to know who’s first, second, third, who’s on first, who’s on second. who’s other. So, it’s going to cause you to be sharper as well.”

Rutt suggested that the policy change to read that the mayor had the discretion of the order of the roll call vote.

“He does change the order periodically, I think inadvertently. I  just don’t see why, you know, we should always be one to four that to me that something that doesn’t make sense to me,” Councilman James said. “It never gives the other side or the other counselors a chance to speak before or cast their vote before. And I made this comment about other things because ward four will always be last on everything.”

Councilwoman Wilson, who represents ward four with Councilman James commented that she never had a problem going last because it gave her an opportunity to hear what other members of council were using to base their vote on. She said her vote often made no difference because the measure had already passed or failed when it got to her, but she still had the chance to express her thoughts.

“Which is a good argument to change it,” Councilman James said. “To give others an opportunity to hear and go last so they can hear everyone else first. Or other comments or changes on the council.”

Councilwoman Wilson asked about a requirement that any written materials to be handed out must be submitted to the City Clerk prior to the meeting. She questioned if someone had handouts would they not be allowed to speak at all. Rutt explained that written documents must be provided ahead of the meeting under FOIA, but that someone could still speak during public comment, they simply could not hand anything out that had not been submitted to the clerk beforehand. Meetings will remain on the second and fourth Monday of the month with workshops scheduled as necessary.

The changes passed unanimously.





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