Those who frequent Duncan City Council meetings will notice the agendas will look a little different.
Under the “Other Comments” item, which allows for input from the public, a new notice reads: “Per State Statute the mayor and council will not be able to respond to any issues brought forward during this part of the agenda. The City Manager or Staff will take your information and address the situation then reconnect with you. The Council Members are available before and after the meeting to address concerns on an individual basis. (SIC)”
The addition to the agenda struck concerns with some Duncan residents, but Kenzie Wheeler, with City of Duncan, clarified this statement doesn’t strike public comment from the meeting, just indicates officially that Council Members cannot respond to something which wasn’t already included on the agenda.
“This is new language on our agendas. Citizen input is very important and will continue to stay on each agenda item now and going forward as it has historically been,” Wheeler said. “While public input is not required under the state statute, the city officials recognize the benefit it provides and intends to continue allowing it.”
Wheeler said the inclusion of the language comes from a previous training meeting in the state.
“At a recent training from the Oklahoma Municipal League, it was recommended to include the language on the agenda for all municipalities and groups subject to the Open Meeting Act,” Wheeler said. “This language prevents elected officials from inadvertently making a decision to an action that was not posted.”
The guidelines follow how public comments have always been handled. Before the language was added, if citizens approached council to voice concerns during the public comment section, council members let citizens know they could “hear them, but legally not respond.” The City Manager or other staff would take numbers and contact information to address the citizen at a later time, and if necessary, add their concern to the next City Council agenda.
Duncan City Council’s next meeting is at 5:15 p.m. July 11.