By Andrea Cordle
New rules of council will make public participation a bit easier.
The council rules were amended and adopted at the May 21 Grove City Council meeting.
“We are trying to improve transparency and add structure,” said councilman Jeff Davis.
Residents who attend council meetings will notice the changes.
According to Davis, the order of business has been changed to accommodate speakers and guests. Up to this point, council has organized the agenda to cover finance items first, then safety, followed by service and lands. Davis said the majority of speakers sign up to address land usage, so that subject will now be first in order.
The new council rules also eliminates the rule that says three opponents and three proponents are permitted to speak on each item.
“We want to be as courteous as we can be and make sure everyone feels welcome,” said Davis.
Typically, if there is an issue that draws debate among residents, council would waive the rules to allow more than three speakers for each side. The new rules would save time because council would no longer have to vote on waiving the rules. The time allotment to address council on an issue remains at three minutes per speaker.
The city has made other efforts to make government access easier to residents. Residents can watch the local council meetings and special meetings live on the city’s website. Residents may also watch the taped council meetings on the website.
Davis also mentioned the city’s new open checkbook that is also on the city’s website and allows residents to see exactly how the city is spending funds.
Council did have some discussion about whether to vote on the changes at the meeting or postpone the vote until all the council members were present. Councilman Roby Schottke was absent at the meeting. However, the majority of the remaining council members decided to move forward with the vote.
“We have been talking about this for months,” said Davis. “Let’s get this done and move forward with its implementation.”
In other news, council voted to waive the city’s no alcohol on public streets policy for the annual Homecoming Celebration, which will be held on July 27 in the Town Center.
The Grove City Kids Association has asked council to waive the rules so the organization can sell beer at the event between 6 and 11:30 p.m.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said he has never been in favor of public consumption of alcohol and the first few years or the Homecoming event, the city did not allow alcohol. However, Stage said many people brought their own alcoholic beverages to the festivities.
“It was a big problem,” said Stage.
The mayor said now the city allows it so it can be controlled and sold safely.
Council also waived the provision for the annual Alumni Softball Tournament, which will be held July 29-30 at Fryer Park.
At this event, the Grove City Rotary Club will sell beer.