David Ball

For The Record

Mayor David Rutledge said the purpose of the Bridge City City Council special meeting Tuesday night was not to change citizens requests for placement of items on the agenda. Rather, the purpose was to streamline Decorum Policy procedures behind the scenes for the city council.

Rutledge said the city council is elected to take care of the city’s business.

The two sections discussed were as follows:

Section 12. Who may place items on the agenda:

a. Items may be placed on the agenda either by the mayor, the city manager, the city attorney, or by a council member who has a second member of the city council who agrees the item should be placed on the agenda

b. All requests for agenda items should be submitted to the city manger’s office in order for proper processing and accumulation of supporting material. Council member’s request shall be placed in writing and signed by the submitting council member and at least one other member of the city council. The city secretary may produce a form for this purpose.

c. The agenda item must be sufficient clarity and specificity as to provide every citizen who may be interested in said matter to have particular notice of the issue to be discussed and to provide the city council notice, and adequate time to prepare for the specific items discussed. For example, the subject matter should be specific such as “to discuss repairs of the potholes on Turner Drive.” The subject should not be general in nature as in “to discuss city streets.”

Section 17. Citizen requests for placement of items on the agenda:

a. Citizens who wish to place an item on the agenda must submit a written request to the city secretary’s office. Citizen’s contact information, including their full name, address, phone number, email and preferred manner of contact must be included in the request. The city secretary may produce a form for this puproose. The city manager shall coordinate the city staff to, as soon as practicable, research the proposed agenda item, including the history and factors that may impact the item, as well as the most appropriate department(s) for the item’s resolution.

b. The city secretary shall refer the request, and conclusions of Section 17 (a) above, to the appropriate city council member for investigation and resolution. The city secretary shall also make the same information available to members of the city council, at their re1uest. The assigned city council members, also referred to herein as the “sponsoring city council member,” shall be the city’s contact for the citizen and shall insure that all available administrative remedies in the city have been exhausted.

c. The selection of the sponsoring city council members shall be as follows:

d. If the matter cannot be resolved and the city council member believes that it would be in the best interest of the city for the entire city council to be involved in the matter, that city council member, in conformity with Section 12 above, may request that the issue be placed on the agenda.

e. The agenda item must be of sufficient clarity and specificity as to provide every citizen who may be interested in said matter to have particular notice of the issue to be discussed and to provide the city council notice, and adequate time to prepare for the specific items discussed. For example, the subject matter should be specific such as “to discuss repairs of the potholes on Turner Drive.” The subject should not be general in nature as in “to discuss city streets.”

f. Once the city secretary receives the proposed agenda item she shall coordinate with the sponsoring city council member and make any revisions necessary to ensure that the proposed item has followed the city of Bridge City’s Decorum Policy and applicable state and federal law.

While the council said they’re in favor of using a rotation system and be more involved with the citizens, Councilman Kirk Roccaforte said he didn’t have any issues with the rotation system, but he did have some questions.

For instance, he asked how the council member rotation would start. Rutledge said a citizen would send a letter of request to place the item on the agenda.

Roccaforte said as a council member, he’s been available to citizens every day of the week for 20 years. He said an item placed on the agenda was good as long as it went through the proper channels.

Another issue is the city doesn’t have enough workers, equipment or money to process additional work orders requested by citizens quickly enough.

Rutledge said there will always be priority projects in public works and no job can jump to the front of the list.

“There needs to be a checkpoint for citizens to contact a council member,” he said. “We’ll all be advocates for citizens.”

Another benefit, Rutledge said, is citizens who don’t like to speak in public can bypass speaking at the city council meeting and have a “better experience.”

Roccaforte wanted to knowthat if a council member is handling an issue, will the other council members be made aware. Rutledge said they will be made aware and if they need help a particular council member can be brought in.