Issaquah City Council changes meeting structures

April 9, 2013

By Peter Clark

Work sessions were added and committees were consolidated at the April 1 regular City Council meeting.

On the agenda for consideration was a bill that reviewed the meetings, procedures and structures of the council’s deliberations. Since January, the council has been discussing how to more efficiently schedule its many meetings. With approval of the bill, a number of changes were implemented, including time changes and the dissolution of chair positions within merged committees.

At the most recent Committee of the Whole Council meeting March 26, a long discussion was held regarding specific changes the council would like to see in such a shift. Councilwoman Stacy Goodman presented it, detailing the inclusion of work-study sessions, holding Committee of the Whole Council meetings quarterly rather than monthly, and the administration’s recommendation to fold the Transportation Committee into the council Utilities, Environment and Technology committee.

Council President Fred Butler also wanted to add the preparation of a planning calendar to council business, with the emphasis on including the council in regional committee discussions.

At the April 1 meeting, concern for the changes was voiced by Councilman Joshua Schaer. With the proposal of adding work sessions to the second Monday of the month, his largest complaint was about the need for a change at all.

“I still want a few details before we start amending the municipal code,” he said. “I want to see us finishing off the details and figure out how we do this. Each of us individuals deserve to know that and the public deserves to know that. I’m not ready to amend the code without those considerations.”

The council responded to most of his concerns with answers focusing on the increase of efficiency of its workload and sharing the importance of participation in regional decision-making.

“The work study is the best part in this,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “There are very important issues going to the committees, and this will let all of us hear the same details and be able to ask questions.”

“This will allow us to bring up topics before the committees, before we go to them,” Councilman Paul Winterstein said. “I intend to engage everybody within these preparations.”

Still, Schaer shared his disapproval of most of the changes, particularly in light of his being the chairman of the Transportation Committee.

“There is a stripping of a chair in the agenda and I will not be supporting the motion,” he said.

With a vote of 6-1, the agenda bill passed including the following changes to council practices:

• Reduce monthly committee of the whole meetings to quarterly

• Adjust regular council meeting start times from 7:30 to 7 p.m.

• Consider an opportunity at regular council meeting agendas for council members to provide input about emerging issues.

• Consider opportunity for nonaction items to be heard under regular business items that would be accompanied with an agenda bill.

• Establish monthly committee of the whole work sessions.

• Develop a quarterly planning calendar.

• Merge the council Transportation Committee with the council Utilities, Environment and Technology Committee.

• Shift any economic vitality issues from the council Land & Shore Committee to the council Services & Safety Committee.

 

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