City leaders are set Tuesday for a final vote on cutting Columbus’ monthly council meetings.
On the city council’s agenda tomorrow morning are both an ordinance to reduce the number of now weekly meetings and a resolution asking state legislators to amend the city charter to match. Critics have complained that the charter establishing the consolidated city-county government’s structure and procedure requires council to meet every week, so no mere change in its code of laws can achieve that.
Changing the city charter requires legislative approval. It also can be changed by a referendum in which voters decide on recommendations from a Charter Review Commission.
Amendments to the city code require only six votes of the 10-member council.
Council’s meeting schedule is addressed in both documents. The ordinance up for a vote proposes that council’s meeting on the first Tuesday of the month be held at 5:30 p.m. and reserved solely for the mayor’s presenting proclamations to honor residents. Neither councilors nor city staff would have to attend. The meeting on the second Tuesday would be a regular council session held at 9 a.m. No meeting would be on the third Tuesday. A regular session at 5:30 p.m. would be on the fourth Tuesday. In months with a fifth Tuesday, council would meet at 9 a.m. for a work session.
One exception to this procedure would be the first meeting in January following an election year. That’s when council has to hold an organizational meeting and swear in any new members. So attendance can’t be optional, nor can the occasion be reserved for presenting proclamations.
The schedule also would be altered each June, when state law requires hearings on adopting a tax millage rate to be held a week apart. Then council by resolution could hold called meetings to comply.
The charter section addressing meetings says in part: “The rules of the council shall provide for regular meetings which shall be held at least once in every week . . . . In no event shall fewer than two regular meetings be held in any month.”
City Attorney Clifton Fay said the second sentence qualifies the first. So, though the first says meetings shall be held once every week, the second sets the true minimum of no fewer than two meetings a month, Fay said.
Councilors decided to ask state legislators to alter the charter to avoid any confusion. Their resolution asks that the first sentence in that charter section be changed to say, “The council shall hold at least two regular meetings per month.”