YUMA, AZ - With the Yuma City Council voting last night to move call to the public to the end of each council meeting, KSWT news 13 wanted to know what this change really means for you the taxpayer.
Call to the public is an opportunity for residents to address council members on items that are not listed on the agenda. That means, by state law, council members can not take action or respond to your comments.
Mayor Al Krieger says sending your concerns via: email, letter, or by phone call will get your item on to the agenda, maybe, but it's not a guarantee. We turned to Krieger to get this answer because as mayor, he answers to all constituents in the city of Yuma.
Krieger was one of three council members who voted against moving call to the public because he says putting an item on the agenda is not as easy as sending an email.
"Little bit of a challenge getting that process in place," said Krieger.
Mayor Krieger says getting an item on the agenda can sometimes prove to be a lengthy process. It all depends on the issue. But he admits besides voicing your concern during call to the public, sending an email, letter, or calling your council member is a good first step on pushing for your issue to make onto the agenda.
"I forward that stuff to the administrator or proper department and they go directly back to the constituent and that eliminates a lot of the confusion. And now the constituent is now one on one with the city," he said.
In an email sent to local media, the city is now encouraging citizens to contact their councilmember directly. The city claims call to the public is best used when communicating includes sending city leasers emails, letters, or by leaving them phone messages.
The city points to the adoption of curbside recycling as one example of how this system proved successful. But as KSWT News 13 captured on camera during Wednesday night's council meeting, the system the city is encouraging constituents to follow is not a guarantee your voice will immediately be heard.
"Councilmember Thomas, you talk a lot about transparency. I would believe that your transparency is sincere when you finally fulfill your commitment to me and put the item on the agenda like you promised me that you would do," said Constituent Phil Clark during Wednesday night's meeting.
And that's why the Mayor Krieger says call to the public should remain at the beginning of each council meeting.
"They're speaking to the council as a whole; you have six council members, mayor, administrator, city attorney, clerk, audience and viewing audience."
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