City Council takes aim at policy guidelines

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— At its first brown bag lunch Thursday, the City Council began to work through a list of priorities that focused heavily on establishing partnerships with other community groups.

The council did not make any decisions at the lunch meeting but did start focusing in on what it will try to accomplish in 2002.

Council President Kathy Connell made it clear that no decisions would be made at lunch meetings, voicing a concern that the public could think the council was trying to do things in secret.

All meetings are open to the public.

In fact, a few members of the public helped the council define its priorities by guiding the discussion.

Connell said she does not think it would be productive, however, to allow public comment on issues not already being discussed at the one-hour meetings.

In previous years, the council has established priorities that some council members have said are broad-based and could not really be completed in one year.

This year, the council may attempt to create checklists underneath broad policy guidelines to keep council members focused on what specifically they can do to achieve their larger goals.

For instance, under a policy about improving partnerships, the council may make it a goal to discuss consolidation with Mount Werner Water and Sanitation again.

"If it's productive, let's get it done," said Councilman Bud Romberg.

Romberg said he thinks the council needs to pinpoint what exactly its role is and potentially divert more of its attention to setting policies and letting staff handle more of the nuts and bolts of city government.

That could lead to something like a system of policy governance, which the council has looked at before but never adopted.

The next brown bag meeting will be on March 8.

The next regular City Council meeting will be on Tuesday.

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