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Ann Arbor City Council passes new guidelines for its meetings

Ann Arbor City Council chambers.
Kevin Meerschaert
89.1 WEMU
Ann Arbor City Council chambers.

The Ann Arbor City Council has made some changes to the way its meetings are run.

Most of the changes are technical in nature, clearing up language in the rules.

Other changes include not allowing councilmembers to add items to the agenda after 5 PM Thursday ahead of the Monday Council meeting.

4th Ward Councilmember Jen Eyer says the change will give the public and fellow councilmembers more time to evaluate what’s being proposed.

“The sooner that those items are on the agenda, the sooner the public can see them and react to them and have some time to give us feedback before the meeting, so that we can really consider more public input before voting.”

Councilmembers will still be able to propose items be placed on the agenda during the regular meeting, but it will require a vote by the full body.

Another change allows the City Administrator to add a fiscal or administrative impact to any ordinance or resolution.

3rd Ward Councilmember Travis Radina says it’s a good idea to know how anything passed by the Council affects the budget.

“That’s something that I’m particularly excited about with this change and will continue to monitor because I would have to make sure that, even with our resolutions, we’re making sure continuing to have that fiscal outlook as well.”

Under the new rules an ordinance submitted by a councilmember must first be reviewed by the City Administrator and City Attorney for feasibility. The Administrator will also be given time to report on the legislation’s fiscal, staffing and other impacts to city operations.

The City Council has also made some changes to how public comments are heard during meetings.

Under the old rules, those who signed to speak would be given up to three minutes to express their thoughts at the beginning of the meeting until the 45 minutes reserved for comments expires. Those who still wish to talk can do so at the end of the meeting. Now, if 30 or more people sign up, they’ll be given two minutes each during the first round of comments.

Ward 5 Councilmember Erica Briggs say that will allow more people to address the body.

“Now we would have 15 members that could speak at the beginning and the remainder overflow would happen at the end of the meeting. This would move that up, so that 22 or 23 members of the public could speak to us in advance of our consideration.”

Other changes to public comment include keeping the area around the podium clear when someone is speaking. Anyone carrying signs must keep them at shoulder height, and they cannot be attached to walls, poles or chairs.

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News Reporter and Host Kevin Meerschaert was a student reporter at WEMU in the early 90s. After another 30 years in the public radio business and stops in Indiana, Maryland, Florida, and New Mexico, Kevin is back to where it all began.
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