Residents will wait to speak

There will be a little less sound and fury at the beginning of City Council meetings. The Council approved Monday night moving the Call to the Public from the beginning of its meetings to the end.

Three council members, Ray Lyons, Tom Carter and Janet Watson, were not present at the meeting. The vote was unanimous. Residents will now have to wait to speak their minds until the end of the meeting.

Only two residents spoke out against the move.

Herberta Schroeder said she had heard that Council was moving the Call to the Public to the end of its meeting in order to avoid setting a tone for its meetings.

"Unfortunately, if you would do your jobs the way we elected you to do them, there would be no need for a change in time because there would be no tone to deal with," she said. "I find it appalling what this Council has done. And if you all can't understand and can't live with the criticism, then you shouldn't be doing your jobs, because you do serve the public whether you like it or not. They do have a right to have a voice."

She said putting the Call to the Public at the end of the meeting wouldn't change the tone and might only make things worse because people with grievances would have sit and wait through the entire meeting before getting a chance to have their say.

"You're going to have these people sitting through the meeting staring at you with open hostility and you're not going to change the tone," she said. "You could actually increase the tone to be worse if you make the people sit and wait to the very end. We citizens of Kingman are watching everything you guys do, and come voting time, you probably won't be doing it any more."

Billie Dickmeyer also spoke out against moving the Call to the Public. She pointed out that if Council moved it to the end of the agenda, then residents would not be able to comment on items in the consent agenda. Residents are allowed to sign up to speak on any regular agenda item during the meeting. She requested Council table the item and create a new ordinance that would give residents the chance to speak on consent agenda items.

Mayor Les Byram explained that the Call to the Public was designed to allow residents to bring items to the attention of the Council to consider at future meetings. "The prime purpose of the meeting should be the itemized agenda that is there for people to discuss and for us to make decisions on," he said. "It [the Call to the Public] was never intended to provide a forum for people who address Council and expect us to make some decision at the beginning of the meeting. It seems like just about every meeting we've had the same people during the Call to the Public. We've had the members of RAID. We've had Reverend Pennington and all the developers on the impact fees. We've had Mr. Dunton. We've listened to the same things for a while now," he said. What surprised him was that every council member has an e-mail address and very few of them get e-mails from residents. "I never get e-mails from the public telling me, 'Hey, could you look at this' or 'What do you think of this?' I come to the meeting and all of a sudden we get lambasted at the beginning of the meeting," he said.

It would be much more beneficial to the Council and the residents if members knew ahead of time what issues might come up at the meeting, he said. "I know from my standpoint that would be much better than getting here to the meeting, not even knowing there is a concern about something on the agenda and then having people get up and start talking about it. And we're all sitting here saying, 'I didn't know that,'" he said.

Councilman Tom Spear said he would be more than willing to pull any item for discussion from the Consent Agenda if a resident contacted him before the meeting. Deering and Vice Mayor Dave French both echoed his remarks.

French compared agenda items with appointments. The long calls to the public at the beginning of the meetings push those "appointments" back. French said he has had numerous complaints from people who were on the Council agenda over the last few months about having to sit through the Call to the Public.

"And they have an appointment with us. These people [those at the Call to the Public] don't have an appointment with us," he said.

"I just want to be reassured that the public would have an opportunity if at the last minute they saw something on the Consent Agenda that they would like pulled or discussed separately that that was in place for them," Dickmeyer said. Council members assured her that if a resident had a concern and voiced it to any of them, the item would be pulled from the Consent Agenda. Deering, Spear, French and Byram then approved the item unanimously.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved the auction of three parcels of land in the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park to three different buyers for a grand total of $375,052.

• Approved a change order, a Community Development Block Grant and a construction contract for the Central Commercial Building.

• Approved a study concerning the Hilltop Wastewater Treatment Plant. The study will be used to apply for a grant from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.

• Decided to hear results of a public survey during the Council's retreat in November.