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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

City Council Rules, Mayor Witt Says, "Let's Try Another Way"

photo of Mayor Steve Witt and copy saying he will be instituting new rules for public comments and a new meeting timing clock

LAKE CITY, FL – During the past couple of months there has been much discussion regarding the Lake City Council's rules of procedure and public participation. There have been suggestions and counter suggestions, with one councilperson moving the City backwards and another hop scotching the fence from following the lead of the County's more meaningful public comment rules to agreeing with moving the City backwards in time.

Between the County Commission and the Lake City, City Council, the only at-large elected official is Lake City Mayor Steve Witt. He runs the City meetings.

The recent contention at City meetings has not gone unnoticed by the City Manager Helfenberger or Mayor Witt.

meeting timer with leds and stop light treeA New and Modern Way of Timing

City Manager Helfenberger will be tasking the City Clerk to purchase a new meeting timer which will show both elapsed time and have lights to remind speakers that their time is running down. Unlike the County, there will be no rude and distracting bongs, buzzers or beeps. This is the way it is done in other municipal bodies and it is neither rude nor intrusive.

This clock will be under the control of the Clerk.

The present City rules regarding public participation and meeting format were approved in January 2014 after the passage of what was known as SB50, FL stat. §286.0114.

These rules left public participation for agendaed items such as resolutions and the approval of contracts up to the mayor.

Recently, it was suggest by Vanessa George, among others, that it would be a good idea for the Council members to listen to the public after their discussions and before they voted.

Your reporter spoke with the Mayor about the clock and the continuing saga of the City rules of procedure.

Mayor Witt: looking to try meaningful change

Mayor Steve WittThe Mayor said, "To keep things uniform between the two County governments, I think it would be a good idea to try the County format of allowing speakers to address agenda items after they are announced and discussed by the Council and before they are moved to a vote."

He continued, "I believe this will give the public the meaningful participation they desire and the Council timely input which they may incorporate into their decision making process."

"I will bring it up to the Council tomorrow night and explain that I am considering trying this procedure for the next couple of meetings. I think that would be a good way to see how this works at the City."

Mayor Witt will be suggesting the trial to begin at the next City Council meeting, allowing speakers up to three minutes per agendaed item.

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