Friday, March 1, 2013

Sun Valley halts city business after 9 p.m.

Resolution to prune long, ‘inefficient’ meetings


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Prompted by a seven-hour meeting on Feb. 7, the Sun Valley City Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution that forces a stop to council meetings that go past 9 p.m. The resolution also states that regular meetings will start at 4 p.m., an hour earlier than before.

Under the resolution, once the clock strikes nine, a meeting must end after the council finishes conducting business on the current agenda item. All remaining items will be pushed to the next regular meeting or to a special meeting.

So far this year, regular meetings have averaged six hours and 24 minutes, based on meeting recordings posted on the city’s website. In comparison, regular meetings in 2012 averaged four hours and 26 minutes, and regular meetings in 2011 averaged three hours and 45 minutes. Those calculations don’t include executive sessions that may have occurred during the meetings but were not included in the recordings.

At the Monday meeting, Councilman Franz Suhadolnik said one reason for the lengthy meetings is that the council is currently on “overload.” During fall 2011, several personnel-related issues came to a head at City Hall. Those issues have undoubtedly bloated the council meetings’ agendas, but the council members agreed Monday that meetings could also be conducted more efficiently.

“I don’t object to a long meeting as long as it’s productive and efficient,” Councilwoman Michelle Griffith said. “My objection is we’re frequently woefully inefficient.”

Councilman Nils Ribi said it’s important for council members to receive meeting packets as far in advance of meetings as possible to give them more time to prepare. The council also discussed communicating questions to staff members before meetings if possible, which would allow staff members to prepare answers ahead of time, and limiting public and council comment lengths. 

Councilman Bob Youngman suggested the resolution as a short-term solution, but said that in the long term, council members should work on keeping themselves “on topic” and that the mayor should ensure that they do so.

The discussion lasted 35 minutes, about 10 percent of an average 2013 meeting.

Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

 




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