City Council to keep meeting twice a month

Published 10:52 am Friday, May 24, 2013

Bainbridge City Council members will continue to meet twice a month, after voting down a proposal which would have had them meeting only once a month for most of the year.

The council voted 4-1, with Glennie Bench voting no, to keep the council’s current schedule the way it is. Currently, the council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, only cancelling meetings when they fall near a major holiday.

However, at the city council’s annual retreat in April, City Manager Chris Hobby proposed a new schedule: hold a regular meeting on the second Tuesday of each month and then only meet quarterly on the fourth Tuesday. In addition, Hobby proposed that the quarterly meeting be held more informally, as a workshop meeting, in which the agenda could be less rigid.

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At the retreat, Hobby said his proposal was primarily based on his observation that the council’s second monthly meeting tended to have a very brief agenda for council members to discuss and consider. He cited two factors: one, the council’s decision in recent years to give the city manager more leeway in handling bids and bills, under a set dollar amount, without requiring the council’s vote. Second, his observation that most of the council’s important business tended to be handled in the first meeting of the month.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Mayor Edward Reynolds said he supported the proposal, pointing out the fact that Tuesday’s meeting only had one agenda item — discussion of the meeting schedule — in addition to a handful of bids and bills to approve.

Reynolds said he believed holding only one monthly meeting would save both council members and city department heads time and effort they might spend in preparing for the meetings.

However, longtime City Councilman Luther Conyers said he didn’t think those reasons were “enough to warrant a change.”

“I think we would be relinquishing too much control by going to the proposed schedule,” Conyers said.

Councilman Joe Sweet said he had spoken to some citizens, who told him that they would like to have the opportunity to go to a meeting every two weeks if they had an issue.

“In my opinion, residents have many more ways to interact with elected officials than they did in the past,” said Reynolds, who noted that each of the council members had publicly listed phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer referred to the city manager’s practice of calling council members individually to get their vote on a bid or bill, in the event something needed to be approved between the bi-monthly meetings.

“If you only meet once a month, those calls would increase signficantly, which is something I don’t like having to do now,” Palmer said.