Council schedule will remain same in 2013

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 08:37 AM

The Lenoir City Council will operate under the same meeting schedule in fiscal year 2013 after deciding recently to leave things as they are as far as regular sessions and the Committee of the Whole gathering are concerned.

Council members had discussions during the October Committee of the Whole session about possibly altering the schedule that has been in place. That schedule consists of two monthly meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. along with the Committee of the Whole meeting that takes place at 8:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday.

City Manager Lane Bailey presented three options for discussion after comparing Lenoir’s meeting schedule with those of other municipalities in Caldwell County and those of local governments from surrounding counties.

“I don’t have any preference, but I encourage you to pick one tonight,” Bailey said.

One option was to leave the schedule as is and attempt to reduce the length of the Committee of the Whole session by limiting outside reports while trying to have as many special presentations at city council meetings.

A second option presented was to eliminate the second monthly council meeting and continue with the Committee of the Whole meeting but move it to the third Tuesday morning, record it and try to limit items discussed in that setting.

The third option was to change the second meeting of the month to the Committee of the Whole session, have it during the 6 p.m. time slot and record it, eliminating the daytime COW meeting.

Councilman Todd Perdue spoke out against changing the schedule.

“I’m opposed to any kind of a change in our meeting schedule,” he said. “We’re elected to serve and be available to the public. To make changes minimizes the importance of these meetings and shirks our responsibilities. It’s our responsibility to be here. I don’t think I can support any change. I would urge you to not make any changes.”

Mayor Pro Tem T.J. Rohr spoke of the relevance of some meetings that last less than half an hour.

“I don’t intend to minimize our responsibilities,” Rohr said. “If a meeting lasts 15 or 20 minutes, I don’t see any harm to reduce the number to two a month. Meeting just to meet is not a viable option. It wastes time, money and energy.”

Councilman David Stevens talked about a more relaxed approach in the Committee of the Whole sessions that often generates more discussion on issues and agreed with Perdue in regard to upholding responsibilities.

“I don’t want to shirk our responsibilities in any way, shape or form,” Stevens said. “But I don’t think our citizenry takes advantage of the times we are here.”

Councilman Ben Willis noted that he felt COW meetings last too long, and Mayor Joe Gibbons spoke about moving some of the items from those meetings to the regular council sessions.

“I think we have a pretty good deal, and we’re trying to monkey with it,” Gibbons said.

Ultimately, Councilman Lewis Price made a motion to leave the schedule as it is that passed by a 6-1 margin.

Bailey then recommended that the first meeting in January be moved to Jan. 8 since the first Tuesday falls on New Year’s Day and that the council have only that meeting and the COW meeting during the month. Council members supported that schedule change for the month.