Mt. Vernon Register-News

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July 15, 2014

City clears up policies

MT. VERNON — The City Council is working on updating its policies.

The council discussed its policies and ordinances pertaining to first and second readings of ordinances, which then led to a question on the procedures on how items are placed on the agenda for meetings.

The issue with multiple readings of ordinances was presented several months ago by Councilman David Wood who has maintained he relies on the two readings to allow for more time to have questions answered and for the public to ask questions on ordinances.

Under terms of the existing ordinance, a second reading of an ordinance can be waived by a vote of the board to suspend the rules.

"All motions, resolutions, petitions, orders and communications may be acted upon by the Council at the meeting at which first presented or received," the ordinance states. "But no ordinance shall be voted upon at the meeting at which it is first presented unless the rules shall be first suspended."

Wood and other council members conceded that some ordinances — specifically those which have been before the Planning and Zoning Commission — have already had more than one opportunity to be heard by the public prior to being presented to the council. However, Wood said he believes at least two readings should be used most of the time to allow the public time for input.

"Many times the first reading is the first time the citizens have been notified of the ordinance," Wood said. "I have objected to not having a second reading in the past ... unless there is a compelling reason. ... but what do we think as a group, is a compelling reason? What is a compelling reason when the public hasn't had an opportunity to know about it? What if another member of the council has additional questions? Yes, three can waive the second reading and vote, but not all the members in that instance get all the information they want ... and it's too late, the ordinance has already passed."

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