Havre Daily News
Some called for a change, but the majority thought what wasn't broke didn't need fixing.
The Havre City Council will continue to meet twice a month after its members voted 6-2 Monday night against a proposal to meet only once each month.
Council members will consider starting the meetings an hour earlier, at 7 p.m.
Before voting, each City Council member weighed in on the possibility of switching to one meeting a month, as suggested by new City Council member Gerry Veis.
Veis said the council's business could be completed in one monthly meeting. He said a single meeting would encourage community groups who have business with the council to approach it in a more timely fashion, and that special meetings could be called as needed.
He also said meeting once a month would not stifle the public's chance to voice opinions.
“The public has ample right and opportunity to talk to us at any time,” Veis said.
City Council member Terry Schend agreed, saying meetings are sometimes short. City Council committee meetings could be expanded, he added.
The rest of the council disagreed. Members said one meeting a month would stifle the public's opportunity to hear from city officials and voice opinions about their decisions. Losing a meeting could mean the community would lose out on 11th-hour grant opportunities that need to be brought before the City Council for approval. Some members said they believe that meeting twice a month is part of the City Council's duty.
“We shouldn't make the people fit our needs,” City Council president Rick Pierson said. “We should fit the people's needs.”
“There are times when things very simply cannot wait four weeks,” City Council member Emily Mayer Lossing said. “I can probably argue that we need to be here more. Two meetings a month are a part of the deal.”
City Council member Jack Brandon said it would take twice as long to pass ordinances, which require two readings after they have been hammered out in committee meetings.
“That's a long time to pass,” Brandon said.
He added that two meetings each month gives the public ample chance to hear about and opine on their government's operation.
City Council member Pam Hillery agreed that one meeting a month would stifle public involvment. In an Ordinance Committee meeting Jan. 23, Hillery said she would consider the change and wanted the full council to discuss it. After speaking to residents, she said she had decided the meeting schedule should be kept the same.
Veis said the council should be more open to change.
“You all have blinders on,” he said.