City Council clarifies workshop rules
For the most part, residents don’t tend to show up at workshop meetings of the Grand Junction City Council.
Yet when an issue hits a nerve or impacts their neighborhood, it’s not uncommon for dozens of people to pack the City Hall auditorium’s chairs.
While folks think they may get a chance to have their voices heard, the meeting structure doesn’t allow it. The result often has residents feeling discouraged, or that their elected officials aren’t listening, city councilors observed during just such a workshop Monday night.
In an effort to work on a solution, future workshop meeting agendas will be labeled as a forum for elected officials to converse, not necessarily open to public comment. If councilors notice a large crowd has gathered for an item, they’ll also pipe up at the meeting’s start to tell people comments won’t be accepted. However, more time will be allowed at twice-monthly meetings of the City Council for residents to comment on issues.
Mayor Rick Taggart introduced the issue Monday night after hearing feedback from residents who believed they would have more of a say at some recent workshop meetings.
“I think sometimes we confuse our audience,” he said. “Do we want input from the audience ... sometimes we don’t.”
Workshop meetings are recorded but not televised, as regular meetings are. Notes from workshops are posted in city materials a few weeks after the sessions.
Workshop meetings are designed for city staff to educate councilors on upcoming issues and for councilors to give staff a general policy direction. No formal votes are taken.
Upcoming workshops still may include comments from members of the public or groups making presentations to councilors.
Yet councilors said they would determine on a case-by-case basis, and at the actual meeting, whether to allow members of the public to speak at workshop meetings.
“I think it’s a slippery slope when we start going around including people who are here,” City Manager Greg Caton said in response to councilors seeking advice.
Caton said those comments would be more helpful at regular council meetings.