City Council Study Session – Citizen Minutes – 26 January 2016

City Council Study Session               January 26, 2016                  Citizen Minutes

South Suburban and Council held a joint session.

From the Council packet:

The purpose of the joint study session is for city council and the SSPR Board to hear an initial report from the consultant on what they have heard from the public through the various community input opportunities and to review the findings from the parks and facilities inventory and assessment.

In addition to the six public input sessions and survey on, a statistically valid survey was sent to a random sample of 3,600 residents. The same survey that was administered to the statistically-valid sample was also available to the public as a non-statistically valid survey and promoted through the public meetings and the city and SSPR social media and garnered an additional 288 responses.

There is still a considerable amount of work to be performed including a financial analysis, an analysis of programs and services, and the development of the action/implementation plan.

A draft plan will be presented in late March or early April with a final plan to be approved by the planning board, city council and SSPR board in May.

Please see Don Bruns remarks on the Blog – he has over forty years of experience in parks and open space with the BLM. He continues to express his concerns about this report and work to be performed.

Council Protocols and Standards of Conduct

Bill Hopping suggested using the city email system (Goggle Mail) in lieu of personal email accounts. He did not think the two should be intertwined. He said all boards and commission members should also use the city email service.

Michael Penny, City Manager, said if the person wants their email to be kept confidential and they are an employee of the city the council member has an ethical duty to turn it over to the city manager and the human resources department. The issue is around liability and if it were found out that we were withholding an email we would have concern. We have a very robust email system so Michael Penny, the City Attorney can go in and get emails to respond to CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests. The city is at a financial risk. You can use your private email for communications if a council member wants to do so. It a constituent wants their email to remain confidential it will be kept confidential. The concern is primarily emails among council members and staff and council members. When a CORA request comes in the city attorney pulls it and sends it to others on staff that may be involved and asks if there are other communications that should be included in responding to the request. When using your personal email you are taking the responsibility. The city attorney has to be able to tell a judge that we responded. Any email from an employee to a personal email address should be redirected to the city email server immediately.

Jerry Valdes asked if a constituent’s email would need to be redirected?

Penny said it was a policy question – how do you want to operate under a city email system. It is not a legal requirement. This is much more about policy.

Valdes said he is not willing to forward emails from a constituent to the city.

Debbie Brinkman said they needed to be ready for CORA – to be helter skelter – we have an obligation of not putting the city at risk.

Doug Clark suggested that the city attorney inform the council of their obligation, who is responsible, and what the liability is in the law.

Bruce Beckman was happy with the current language in the document. Brinkman agreed. The process and guidelines we have are working.

Peggy Cole brought up another subject – she did not like the 6:30 start time. She thought it was a challenge for citizens to get there and did not see any reason not to start at 7 – that would give more citizens an opportunity to engage. (Meetings have always been at 7pm until sometime in Brinkman’s term as mayor.)

Beckman asked what they should do about the boards and commissions – they are starting their meetings at 7. Penny said they did not implement the 6:30 start time on them. Brinkman said to stick with 6:30 – she had not heard from people that it is a problem. She has attended HOA meetings that start at 6:30. People are used to the earlier start time and after 9 pm we start to fade and people want to get home.

Cole said it would be a real challenge for her as a citizen to make the 6:30 start time.

Cernanec preferred the 6:30 start time. Clark thought people have a difficult time getting home from work and getting to a meeting. The fact that council is provided dinner before some of their meetings is an indication that it is difficult. He did not think it was necessary for the boards and commissions to meet at the same time as council. The point is not to remove their flexibility but to allow them to start when it works for them – the meetings just need to be predictable.

Brinkman agreed with Clark on the start time for the boards and commissions.

Valdes said 7:00 pm is more convenient for the public. Hopping didn’t care.

Beckman polled the group – Clark, Brinkman, Hopping and Beckman were in favor of the board and commissions having the flexibility to start their meetings at their own discretion.

Beckman then polled the group on the start time – Cole, Clark, Beckman and Valdes were in favor of a 7 pm start time and Brinkman, Hopping and Cernanec favored the 6:30 start time.

Clark brought up another topic – the current protocols authorize the city manager to change the time of a council meeting and he thought it should be the role of the council. Brinkman said the notice would come through an email. Some of those changes come up a few days before the meeting and it is not a common occurrence. She thought they needed the flexibility.

Hopping asked Penny if he polled the council before making a change. He doesn’t poll and there has never been a problem in the four years he has been city manager.

Clark reminded the council that the meetings are not for their benefit but for the benefit of the citizens and any change that comes through the email will not get to the citizens.

Beckman thought it was more about common courtesy and it can be worked out without writing. Valdes was OK with the city manager being able to change the start time for their meetings. Beckman said it was the mayor’s call. Clark said it was the council’s meeting and the council should be the body to decide. Cole liked the council deciding. Hopping said if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Cernanec, Brinkman, Beckman, Hopping opposed Clark’s suggestion.

Legislative Policy Statement

Clark took issue with the statement regarding unfunded state and federal mandates saying that council approves unfunded mandates for the citizens all the time and to complain because the state does…….why would be think the federal government will pay us for the things they impose?

Cernanec preferred to leave the statement there. He thought the Policy Statement was a useful tool.

Cole supports it and well as Hopping and Valdes. 

Council Goals and Objectives

This topic had to be postponed to another meeting – getting late, they were fading and they wanted to get home!

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