The Villa Rica City Council may begin meeting twice a month and eliminate its monthly work session in order to quicken their response time to city business.
The change from its current once-per-month regular session was almost adopted during the panel’s July 10 meeting but instead was put off until its August session.
The council currently holds one voting session per month. It is the only time the council can act on pending matters, and that meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of each month.
On the Wednesday before that meeting, the council holds a work session. Like the voting session, it is open to the public but the council takes no action. Instead, the council members thoroughly discuss the issues that will be on the voting session agenda.
While the council can, and does, call special called meetings outside of that schedule, those meetings are usually so the council can act immediately on some urgent matter. Handling routine matters such as approving rezoning requests, or contract renewals, are generally only done during the once-a-month meetings.
Yet being able to act only every 30 days can be an onerous process for those who wish to do business with the city, especially those who must first take their issues up with other boards, like Planning and Zoning, which also typically only meet once per month.
The net effect is that a rezoning request, or approval to purchase a piece of needed equipment can take months to complete. Often, information the council needs to make a decision is lacking, meaning that the request must be postponed another 30 days.
And council agendas are getting longer and longer, sometimes with up to 30 items to be discussed at work sessions, then sometimes discussed again a week later at the monthly meeting before being voted on.
The idea behind doubling the voting meetings and speed up this process was first broached at the council’s May 31 work session, which also was one of the longest in recent memory, clocking in at over three hours.
During that meeting, City Manager Tom Barber said that doing the prep work for so many items was not only burdensome to the staff, it was also taxing his ability to review and proof that work. At that same meeting, Ward 4 Council Member Gil McDougal also complained that working in 30-day intervals was taking too long to act on city affairs.
The matter came up again during the July 5 work session and again during the July 10 regular meeting, for which Barber scheduled the matter for another discussion and a vote.
While council members seem willing to approve the measure, finding dates to meet twice a month has proved difficult.
Ward 3 Council Member Leslie McPherson had supported moving the meeting away from the first Tuesday of the month, since that is also the day that the Carroll County Commission meets, so no council member can attend that meeting.
During their discussion on the matter, the panel seemed to reach a consensus on meeting at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.
The council was prepared to adopt that schedule when Ward 1 Council Member Shirley Marchman noted that she had a conflict for those dates. However, she said she was willing to go along with the majority on the matter.
Nevertheless, McDougal – who had made the motion – decided to withdraw the motion, because of Marchman’s statement.
The council then voted to postpone action until the next voting session, now set for Aug. 7.