City Council Meeting Structure Change
Posted: October 17, 2014
I have always enjoyed attending and/or overseeing a good meeting. Whether it was a business meeting or a gathering for a non-profit organization, I have prided myself on making sure that participants stay the course and not go off on a tangent about something that isn't on the agenda. In fact, in my opinion, a meeting without an agenda is like a boat without life preservers.
City Council President Kerry Kincaid recently changed the way council meetings will operate. Instead of allowing city council members to ask multiple questions of city staff prior to council debate, Kincaid only will allow two questions per staff member for each item prior to discussion about the issue. However, during the debate portion of the meeting, questions can be asked as needed.
The result was that the city council meeting this week addressed two important issues in less time that it would have taken otherwise. The first issue about establishing a new Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) District (called TIF #10) for the area in and around the Confluence Project was discussed by council members after hearing an informative presentation from City of Eau Claire Finance Director Jay Winzenz. However, rather than having numerous questions of city staff, council members were more selective about what they asked about and how they worded their questions.
The second issue up for discussion involved the development agreement between the City of Eau Claire and Haymarket Concepts, LLC. Although council members debated the merits of whether the new Haymarket Landing complex would look similar to other downtown buildings, the agreement that was approved forced some council members to restrain from expressing long-winded thoughts. (Except for Council Member Dave Duax, who was politely cut short during his lengthy oratory about how other cities throughout the country have renovated their central business districts).
Some critics of Council President Kincaid's new meeting structure stated that they were not receiving the council packet of materials in a timely fashion and that they did not have time to read the documents thoroughly. But, Eau Claire City Manager Russ Van Gompel has addressed that concern and council members will now have more time to digest the bi-weekly council packet.
All in all, this week's city council went smoothly. Council President Kincaid's new way of conducting a meeting is something that I'm sure all city residents will favor.