There will be no future noon public comment meetings for the Amarillo City Council as the City plans to launch “Council Connect” meetings.
According to the City of Amarillo, beginning on September 3rd, “Council Connect” will take the place of public comment sessions prior to meetings. The “Council Connect” meetings will reduce the number of Council members present to just under a quorum, which the City says will allow Council to engage with citizens on issues presented.
“The new format will greatly increase the availability of councilmembers at times and locations that are convenient to the public,” Amarillo city manager Jared Miller said in a statement.
Citizens will also have the chance to address issues on Council agendas during 1PM City Council meetings. However, information released appears to show that the topics which citizens can address beginning at 1PM will be limited to those on the Council agenda for the day.
City officials say the changes are in response to the passage of House Bill 2840, which officially goes into effect on September 1st.
Public comment meetings have been held at noon since a change to meeting times late last year. In its current form, citizens are allowed three minutes to speak to Council on any issue during the one hour public comment session. The meetings have drawn criticism, however, as the City discontinued its policy last year of recording the public comments, and several meetings have seen members missing before returning for the business meeting at 1PM.
The first Council Connect meeting will be held at 5:30PM on September 3rd at the Downtown Public Library.