Cutting council meetings would stifle public involvement

In an effort to make the city council a more attractive job, the mayor of Marshalltown has suggested reducing the number of meetings the council holds.

Currently, the council holds Committee of the Whole, or discussion meetings, on the first and third week of the month.

The second and fourth weeks the voting meeting – the regular city council meeting – is held.

Mayor Tommy Thompson is not out of line for looking for ways to pique interest in these positions. However the current proposal to reduce meetings would have an impact on public input.

As it stands, the general public may quite rarely attend a city council meeting.

However, they likely know they can show up any Monday night and wait for the public comment portion of the meeting to speak to community leaders.

We think the ease of the current meeting schedule allows the community input on city needs.

Combining both a discussion and voting meeting would surely become cumbersome. Public comment – which takes place at the end of the meeting – would likely occur after a meaty and lengthy meeting.

By nature this would limit community members from addressing the very council members they elected.

Thompson says two meetings a month would cut back on the time commitment for council members and boost the appeal to those considering the job.

There is no doubt that serving on the city council is a great commitment and responsibility. However, providing easy and frequent access to those city officials is paramount.

The sheer volume of business the council has to conduct is another consideration.

Trimming meetings is a wrong idea for Marshalltown and for citizens who want to give public comment.