Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Council's New Agenda

Tonight, Council meets at 7:30 pm at Municipal Hall. You can view the agenda at this link.

First, I'd like to welcome our new Council-at-Large rep, Suanne Gardiner, who will fill the vacancy left by Marlon Millner.

At last Friday's special meeting, there was a discussion (egged on my me) about transparency in Council affairs. I actually never said the word transparency in my remarks. What I said was that they needed better communication with the public. This isn't really the same thing. But I did say that lack of communication was leading to rumors flying around that Council was being secretive. I gave agendas as an example ~ frequently they listed no explanations of the motions being voted on. If Council doesn't discuss the issue and no one asks questions, they might vote without telling even the residents present what the motion was for. Intelligent Public Comments were impossible.

I'm happy to report that this week's agenda has an explanation of each item. So thank you, Council, for making an attempt to address that problem.

Derrick Perry stated that residents should feel free to contact any of the council reps for info on any issue. So let's say you read tonight's agenda and come to the item that reads "Recommendation to Council to approve Resolution 16-144 of 2016 Requiring Council's certification of market rate - owner occupied - housing projects as necessary to be eligible for a reduced sewer system tapping fee offered by the NMWA." And you think "What's this about reduced sewer rates for owner-occupied housing? Is that for everyone, or only new housing projects? And if it isn't for everyone, why not?" You can email or call any council rep right now, and they'll give you the answer, hopefully before the meeting tonight, so you can make your views known before the vote.

You can find all the council reps' contact info (at least phone numbers, except for Suanne, who isn't on the list yet) at http://www.norristown.org/municipal-council.html. I'm not sure why only President and Vice President have email addresses. They all used to have them. It would help communication if they still did.

One last tidbit, Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones said they're installing new software that will allow for annotation of the agendas after the meetings, to explain the votes and any discussion, and also to make any documents public that pertain to the issues. Legally, though, the documents can't be made public before the meetings.

So there you have it, Council's plans for keeping us better informed. If you have trouble getting information about any issue, or understanding the agendas, or communicating with any council rep, let me know.

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