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Mayor defends move to monthly meetings

By Staff | Feb 24, 2010

Last week, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to alter their meeting schedule from the first and third Tuesday of each month to a once-per-month format, in an effort to cut city spending while managing time more effectively.

On Tuesday, during the Land Development Code subcommittee session, Mayor Mick Denham defended the move, noting that he and his fellow councilors will not be negligent in addressing Sanibel’s needs on a timely basis.

“The rationale is that meeting once a month, there will be a cost savings,” Denham told the seven-member panel. “The amount of paperwork that has to be done and the amount of time that it takes each council member to prepare for a meeting certainly adds up.”

According to a Feb. 10, 2010 memorandum from City Manager Judie Zimomra, the city’s staff is continuing to follow the direction of constricting the size of local government, with an emphasis on reducing fixed costs, reducing debt and maximizing revenue.

“At this time, staff recommends that in the interest of controlling costs, City Council establish a meeting schedule for the upcoming year which will convene City Council once per month, except for the months of September 2010 and March 2011,” the document stated. “Two meetings will be necessary in September to comply with the statutory budget schedule and the staff is recommending two meetings in March 2011 to accommodate the annual election of Mayor and Vice Mayor.”

The City Council’s adopted meeting schedule is as follows:

April 6, 2010

May 4, 2010

June 1, 2010

July 20, 2010

Aug. 3, 2010

Sept. 11, 2010 (Budget hearing at 10 a.m.; regular meeting at 2 p.m.)

Sept. 21, 2010 (Final budget hearing at 5:01 p.m.)

Oct. 5, 2010

Nov. 2, 2010

Dec. 7, 2010

Jan. 4, 2011

Feb. 1, 2011

March 1, 2011 (Election Day)

March 15, 2011 (Council election of Mayor and Vice Mayor)

April 5, 2011

Denham also informed the LDC subcommittee that the council did not intend to cut back on any agenda items or presentations and, if warranted, they would adjust their schedule – or add additional meetings – should city business necessitate such action.

LDC chairman Michael Valiquette, who also serves as chairman of the Planning Commission, responded to the rumor that the commission might also adopt a once-per-month schedule, as required under Florida’s Sunshine Law.

“I don’t think that it’s in our best interest to do that with the Planning Commission because we set our own schedule, which seems to be working well,” he added.

Denham also reacted to criticism from part-time island residents, who have said in the past that the city should not make any crucial decisions during the slower so-called “off season,” because less people reside on the island between April and December.

“The city runs 12 months a year… not four months of six months,” he said, noting that Sanibel has an extensive e-mail notification system which all residents may use to stay informed about city business. “People can keep up with our issues by reading the newspapers, too.”