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City works on changing its meeting notice policy
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Is one policy on public notice better than another? McMinnville officials are preparing to find out. While the current policy seems to be on its way out, a new one is on standby.  
Officials voted 4-3 Tuesday night to oust the current policy because it’s too restrictive. Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Jimmy Bonner and Rick Barnes voted in favor of it, while Aldermen Mike Neal, Ken Smith and Billy Wood voted against.
The policy placed tougher restrictions on public notice, requiring at least seven days, as well as when actions from committee can be taken to the full board for consideration.
According to some board members, the policy was too restrictive. A proposed policy relaxes some of those restrictions:
• Public notice of meetings will be five days.
• All committee chairmen will have items for the agenda to the city recorder seven days prior to the scheduled meeting, excluding special called meetings.
• It shall be the goal of the city recorder to have the agendas delivered to all parties of concern five days prior to the scheduled meeting excluding special called meetings. However, agendas for regular scheduled meetings will be attempted to be delivered a minimum of 48 hours prior to that meeting.
• No action will be taken by the board on items presented as “new business” on the same date if new business requires the expenditures of city funds.
• Business requiring the expenditure of city funds must be on the board agenda.
• All business, excluding new business where no city funds are allocated, will originate or be routed through the committee system.
• In the event of an unforeseen emergency where the city of McMinnville or its citizens will suffer harm, the board may suspend part or all of this policy, amend an agenda with board approval.
Neal says he called surrounding cities to find out their requirements on public notice in an effort to generate an easier policy to follow.
“What I hate for us to do is to not have anything on paper,” he said. “I think the people of our city deserve to know how we are going to carry out the city’s business. This is something that’s more to the point, not as complicated and easier on staff in getting the notice out.”
Newman, who voiced in committee to go back to state law that requires only adequate public notice, says he is OK with trying the proposed policy.
“I think this is a good idea,” he said. “The first one was difficult, and maybe longer than it should have been. It was becoming extremely difficult to work through. I think all of us came into office expecting a little more openness in government. I think that’s what we tried to do and we will continue to do.”
Repealing the current policy requires one more vote before the board. The proposed policy will remain under consideration.