Panel recommends City Council take steps toward adopting meeting rules
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Charter requires the City Council to adopt its own rules and order of business for conducting council meetings. It's been generally believed that council meetings have always been formally conducted under the umbrella ...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Charter requires the City Council to adopt its own rules and order of business for conducting council meetings. It's been generally believed that council meetings have always been formally conducted under the umbrella of Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
However, no such formal adoption of a parliamentary authority has taken place in at least the past 30 years, according to city staff members.
The issue of a lack of parliamentary authority arose during the Aug. 6 council meeting. Council member Steve Gardner urged the council to discuss the issue and offered the Labor Relations Committee, of which he is chairman, as the venue for that discussion.
The committee will ask the council to take steps toward adopting rules and order of business.
The committee voted 3-1 Wednesday to recommend that the council adopt a timetable and strategies to provide copies of Robert's Rules of Order, New Revised as an introduction to the subject, and that the committee hold further discussions regarding this subject and how it might apply to the council.
Voting in favor were committee chairman Steve Gardner and members Doug Reese and Denis Anderson. Voting against was Ron Christianson.
In a letter to committee members, Gardner said Robert's Rules are the foremost authority of parliamentary procedure in the world and provide the framework needed to smoothly run meetings.
Gardner said Robert's requires that issues, and not personalities, be debated. Use of Robert's does not allow a member to attack or question the motives of another member. A measure being debated can be hotly contested, but in a fair manner that does not discourage others from joining in the debate for fear of personal attack, he said.
Gardner said his intent is not to blame or point fingers at anyone, but he said establishing a consistent process that fosters order and decorum enhances members' respect for each other and increases the likelihood of making good or better decisions on the public's behalf.
Anderson said he was surprised to learn the council has never adopted rules of order.
Christianson said he did not see a problem and said the council has other, more important issues to discuss. He said most meetings are done with common sense. "If things get out of hand, it's because there is no common sense,'' he said.
Reese said he has served on the council for 22 years and always assumed the council operated under Robert's Rules of Order.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W.
In other business, the council will receive a report on the "Freedom to Breath Act'' from Sandra Schlagel of the Kandiyohi County Tobacco Coalition; will take public comments during the open forum; and will consider a resolution to determine just compensation to landowners for construction of the wastewater treatment plant interceptor sewer pipe on their land.
Also, the council will receive reports from the Finance Committee and the Community Development Committee; consider bids for construction of the second phase of the interceptor sewer project; consider bids for construction of the Willmar Avenue Southwest extension project; and consider transportation enhancements for the Ella Avenue connector.