The City of Duncan will now hold council meetings twice a month, replacing the long-standing practice of holding just one council meeting a month.
The new council decided at its meeting on Dec. 17 that the city will hold council meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month, except in July and August when one meeting will be held, and committee of the whole meetings will now only be scheduled when needed.
The committee of the whole is comprised of the mayor and all members of council, but the meetings are not considered formal council meetings.
When council meets as the committee of the whole, no final decisions are made but rather recommendations can be made to council that must be considered at a properly convened council meeting in order to be acted on or implemented.
Mayor Michelle Staples said there are a number of reasons why council decided to change the scheduling, but a main one is the fact that committee of the whole meetings were held in a separate room from council chambers that no longer fits the committee’s needs.
She said it’s a much smaller room which doesn’t have the filming and broadcasting capabilities that council chambers currently has.
Staples said several important issues are regularly discussed in committee of the whole meetings that many in the public can’t see or hear because they are not filmed and recorded.
So in many cases, council will vote on issues during council meetings without discussion because they have already been debated by council members at the committee of the whole meetings, which deprives the public of the ability to see and hear the discussions.
“It made more sense that we hold these discussions that are usually held in the committee of the whole meetings at the council meetings in council chambers where they will be recorded for all to see and hear,” Staples said.
“This will make everyone more a part of the discussions around the issues. We had considered setting up recording equipment in the committee of the whole room, but it was considered too expensive and the room is just not conducive for that. We will still have committee of the whole meetings in that room when needed because it is set up in a way that allows for more informal discussions.”