University Place plans to hold half as many public meetings

Staff writerJuly 13, 2013 

The University Place City Council is poised to hold half as many public meetings each month.

The council will vote Monday to amend its rules to hold one regular meeting and one study session each month. The rules now call for the council to have two regular meetings and two study sessions each month.

The first meeting under the new schedule would be Aug. 5. Meetings could be added when necessary.

Mayor Ken Grassi said the intent is to avoid the “peaks and valleys” of business before the council that can lead to meeting cancellations.

“We really felt that the perception of cancelling a meeting was very negative,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

The changes would have other benefits, he said, such as reducing the amount of paid time off city employees must schedule to make up for attending the night meetings.

The council now holds regular meetings on the first and third Monday of each month and study sessions on the second and fourth Mondays.

Under the proposed change, the regular meeting would be held on the first Monday and the study session would be held on the third Monday. Council members would start allowing public comment during the study session, where they review draft policies and ordinances.

Grassi said the new schedule is for a six-month trial and that the council could switch back if it’s not working out.

“We’ll give it a try and see how it works,” he said.

The rule change is on Monday’s consent agenda, which consists of routine matters that the council approves with a single vote.

While holding fewer meetings would reduce face time with the public, UP leaders are planning other ways to maintain contact. As early as September, the council will begin holding quarterly coffee hours with two council members and a staff member to answer residents’ questions. The events will be held in the civic and library building. Hours and dates are still being scheduled.

Councilman Eric Choiniere came up with the outreach idea after getting coffee on two occasions at the cafe inside the civic building. About a dozen residents chatted him up about University Place issues.

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