Hoping to improve flow and council’s preparedness at meetings, Mount Union officials are asking persons who want to make lengthier presentations to council to submit their information in writing.
The rule, now in effect, requires persons to submit their letter ahead of meetings so they can be placed on the agenda and not be confined to the usual three-minute speaking rule. The letter must be signed, dated and state the nature of the business to be discussed.
Borough manager Sue Zinobile said the rule — which she noted was practiced by council in the past — will give herself and council members opportunity to better address residents’ concerns and ensure that subjects which could violate the state’s Sunshine Law aren’t exposed to the public.
“It only adds one more layer,” Zinobile said about the new rule, emphasizing the borough is preserving its regular public comment session where speakers have three minutes each to bring matters to council’s attention.
“(The new requirement) is a benefit to the residents who need more than those three minutes,” she said. “It doesn’t take anything away.
Solicitor Larry Lashinsky added, “It’s not meant to stifle but to give order.”
The rule, which was put to a vote at council’s May 1 meeting, passed with 8-1 support. Council member Marlee Russell opposed the requirement and said she feels there is potential for misuse through suppression of information that may benefit the public.
“Overall, a lot of things have happened to me, personally. I’ve seen things that, as a taxpayer, I don’t like, she said. “Let the people talk about their issues.”
Zinobile said she asked council to reestablish the rule, in part, because recent public comments have on occasion treaded into personnel issues.
Lashinsky pointed out that if a matter brought to council deals with a personnel issue or legally sensitive matter, they can still address council, just not in open session.
“This rule makes sense,” he said. “The process improves decorum, response and respect.”
The deadline for submitting letters for the remainder of the year is as follows: Thursday, May 30, for the meeting scheduled Wednesday, June 5; Thursday, June 27, for Wednesday, July 3; Thursday, Aug. 1, for Wednesday, Aug. 7; Thursday, Aug. 29, for Wednesday, Sept. 4; Thursday, Sept. 26, for Wednesday, Oct. 2; Thursday, Oct. 31, for Wednesday, Nov. 6; and before Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28, for the meeting scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Council meeting start at 6 p.m. and are held at the municipal building, 9 W. Market St.
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