City Council agenda items’ adds and removes challenged

Mayor Monica Gates and Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly

Mayor Monica Gates and Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly

KINGMAN – City Attorney Carl Cooper will change language in the city’s municipal code and handbook to clarify who’s allowed to add or remove items from the regular agenda, following direction given at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The issue came up after Mayor Monica Gates removed a tourism presentation that was placed on the Oct. 3 agenda by Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly.

Gates’ intent was to streamline the agendas, which are sometimes filled with action items, presentations and discussions that can take a 5:30 p.m. meeting late into the night.

Cooper said the ordinance was modified in 2015 after Council members were unhappy that their agenda items were being pulled. Only members who placed the item on the agenda can remove it.

There was also language about the timeline for placing items on the agenda, he said.

“I think we’re running into problems sometimes with the law’s unintended consequences,” Cooper said. “For staff, we’d like Council to have some policy on how they want items to be looked at. You can’t put anything on the agenda. Some things are way too inappropriate.”

Sometimes agenda items do not have specific information, or they’re broad and outside the city’s authority, the attorney explained.

“I think it’s really important that one person can’t remove another person’s agenda item for obvious political reasons,” Stehly said. “If we have to be here until 10 o’clock, we just do. You should be prepared and have the information from our packet.”

Councilman Travis Lingenfelter noted that members all ran for office and were elected to represent citizens’ interests, so they do have the right to place items on the agenda. But he’d like to see backup material.

Gates said the city handbook gives the city manager the ultimate say over what is ready for the agenda, which should include backup information. That data is important to staff as well as Council, she said.

Any presentations should go through the city manager first, and should include information in the backup packet.

“My concern is these Council meetings that run until eight, nine, 10 or 11 at night,” Gates said. “I’m not making the same decision I’m making at 5:30.”

There was a contradiction between the code and handbook, the mayor added, with one saying the city manager sets the agenda, and the other saying any Council member can put an item on the agenda.

“This is not a new issue,” Councilwoman Jen Miles noted. “It came up in the past, and at that time, we wanted it very clear that Council could put an item on the agenda and only they could take it off, and I really feel strongly that’s how it needs to be.”