Agendas and background information should be made available to the public as soon as possible, no later than the Saturday preceding a Monday meeting. Full packets should be available at City Hall or the Library and also readily available at the time of the meeting. We recommend an agenda format in which brief explanatory material is provided for the items listed.
We believe the Council is responsible for communicating to the public the background and estimated consequences of policy decisions. Open council meetings alone are not sufficient for this purpose. We recommend the use of the city newsletter, the media, MCTV and any other means possible to reach the widest possible public.
Citizens should be encouraged to make their views known by citizen comment during Council meetings, public hearings, meetings of advisory boards and commissions, communications through City Manager or department heads, personal contact (with Council members), focus groups, neighborhood groups and any other means available. We approve of the current practice of providing a time for open comment at City Council meetings, as well as comments directed to specific agenda items. To make the procedure more welcoming, we recommend that a pamphlet be available to explain Council procedure and the role of citizens. In addition to legal notification requirements, public hearings, both for the Council and for advisory boards and commissions, should be broadly publicized. Pertinent information should be included in the hearing notice. Debate format should be defined (time limits for example) in advance, preferably in the original announcement.
All meetings of the Council should be recorded by minutes or notes, which should be made available to the public promptly in the newspaper and/or at City Hall, at the Library and on the web site.
Notices of opportunities to serve on boards and commissions should be widely publicized. Descriptions of the responsibilities and terms of appointment should be included in the announcement. Application forms should be available at City Hall, the Library, from Council members, from department heads and on the web site. Council members, from department heads and on the web site. Recommendations for appointment may be made by the administration, but the ultimate selection for all boards should be the responsibility of the City Council. In the interest of the broadest citizen input, appointment of an individual to more than one board at a time should be discouraged.
It is the responsibility of advisory boards and commissions to gather information, to hold hearings as needed and to make recommendations to City Council. Although the administration may provide much of the information, we encourage the use of alternate sources, especially citizen input. The experience of other communities should also be considered.
Notices of advisory board and commission meetings should be widely publicized (via our recommendations for City council notices). Minutes should be written and published as soon as possible after the meeting and made available to the public at City Hall and the Library. They should be included in the agenda packets for Council members as soon as they are written.