Huntsville City Council moves non-agenda public comment to end of meeting

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Huntsville City Council updated their bylaws and starting in October, public comments on non-agenda items will take place at the end of the meeting.

Council President Jennie Robinson said the council bylaws haven’t been fully updated in decades.

Robinson said this is a way to help the city focus on a more efficient way to do business, but the change comes with opposition.

They say they are grouping all business items together, so public comments on agenda items will stay in their current place.

“We have a lot of business to be done by this city, we have a lot of people who have interest in that business whether its the staff, contractors or community organizations that work with the city,” Robinson said.

If you’ve ever watched or attended a meeting, you know public comments can take a long time, depending on how many people want to speak. Often times council meetings end after 10 p.m. Robinson said this change will allow those traveling to Huntsville for business items to leave the meeting after their item is covered.

Councilmen Devyn Keith and Bill Kling verbally disagreed with moving a portion of public comment to the end of the meeting — saying its unfair to ask the public to stay that late to have their voice heard.

“To tell the public they are subjugated to a certain part we deem the perceived impact of their presence being negative to the structure of the government or efficiency of this night is not right,” Keith said.

He said that the council president has the power to adjust the agenda at any time and pause public comment to handle city business.

“You could say at this very moment ‘I as a president say we are going to move to business, bring the items up to give consideration to those individuals and department heads but if you’re person 15-30 we will come back to you before council comments,” Keith said.

Robinson said changing the meeting every time is wrong and will break trust of people.

The changes will take effect in October at the start of the new fiscal year.

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