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Morgantown Council to schedule workshop to discuss public meeting policies

MORGANTOWN — On Nov. 15, Morgantown City Council voted to table an ordinance that would shuffle Robert’s Rules of Order down the priority list when determining how the body conducts its meetings.

The thinking at the time by a majority of council was that the city should organize and compile its own rules before de-emphasizing Robert’s Rules of Order — a widely used guide on parliamentary procedure dating back to the late 1800s. 

On Dec. 20, that compiled list was presented to council, which promptly tabled it until a rules workshop could be convened. Councilors cited a lack of time to review the document and the absence of two members as motive. 

Two of the issues that are likely to come up during that session are two that were raised by the body almost exactly one year ago — meeting times and placement of agenda items.

Council meetings, scheduled for 7 p.m. on the first, third and last Tuesday of the month, consistently start late, often by 20 minutes or more.

Closed-door interviews for the city’s board and commissions are held prior to the regular meeting, starting at 6 p.m. Efforts to condense that process have made little progress in getting council on schedule, prompting Councilor Bill Kawecki to suggest council just move its regular meeting start time back to 7:30 p.m.

Others have suggested further altering the interview process.

“I am not in favor of a later start time. We are usually already here until 11 p.m. or later. This is not my only obligation and I like to sleep sometimes,” Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble said. “I think starting at 7:30, we’re just going to be finishing later and later. We’re not going to be finishing any earlier.”

As for agenda items, an item can currently be placed on an agenda by the city manager, the mayor or a consensus of four council members — a majority of the seven-member body.

Councilor Ixya Vega said she would like to see that number reduced to three, explaining that the need for majority support just to discuss an item is tantamount to an unofficial vote.

“I feel like we talked about this before but we didn’t bring it up before we wrote up the policy again,” Vega said, adding “I don’t remember where we landed on this as a group but I would like to explore that being three instead, because if we do four we’ve already had a vote essentially.”

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