This meeting will come to order.
At the June 1st City Council meeting Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and the City Commissioners had a discussion about changing the way they would handle public comments. And as promised, the City Staff has drafted a proposed resolution spelling out the exact way in which it will be allowed. That resolution will be voted on at this Wednesday’s meeting.
At the June 1st meeting, Kilsheimer seemed inclined to implement several changes. The proposed resolution would affect:
- When the public comments are heard
- The time limit on individual comments
- The total amount of time dedicated to public comments
“I know a lot of other cities have a defined policy of public comment,” he said. “Other meetings I’ve been to, the public comments always come at the front of the meeting. That way if there’s anything on the agenda that’s coming up that they want to comment on, they can come and give that comment at the front of the meeting. This gives everyone a chance to speak about the things that are coming before the council. And it gives the Council the benefit of public input on many items on the agenda prior to actually taking a vote. And it does not preclude any required public comments during a controversial re-zoning issue for example or something of that nature. We still have to take public comment on that.”
The more controversial issues in the draft resolution are time limits for individuals (three minutes), and public comment as a whole (30 minutes). Kilsheimer thinks it will only enhance the speaker’s effectiveness.
“I hate to be the guy that cuts people off, especially if they are passionate about something. But three minutes is the standard at virtually every other board that I’ve been to. It doesn’t limit public input, but it does require you to focus.”
Gene Knight is a frequent public speaker at City Council meetings and the Founder/Administrator of the Facebook group Apopka Then and Now. He is particularly unhappy with the 30 minute restriction on public comments.
“I don’t believe they should limit public comment to 30 minutes,” he said “If you’re not one of the first ten to fill out a speaker’s card you probably won’t be heard. And everyone should be heard.”
It is Knight’s intention to speak on this subject.
The City Council meeting is this Wednesday at 7:30 PM at the Council Chambers.