Some on the Carmel City Council are making a push for an earlier deadline for releasing the Council’s agenda to the public. Proponents say the extra time will allow for more people to speak out on issues.
The proposed ordinance, co-sponsored councilors Sue Finkam, Ron Carter and Kevin “Woody” Rider, would mean that the council agenda would be released six days prior to the meetings, which occur at 6 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month.
Currently, agenda items are sent to the clerk six days before the meeting and the agendas are released usually on the Thursday or Friday before the meeting. Finkam said this short deadline means it’s hard for some business leaders and concerned citizens to attend if there’s an important issue.
“When the agenda comes out late Thursday night, it’s often hard for them to make room for their schedule,” she said.
Finkam said she frequently hears from constituents that they wish they could attend to speak about an issue they feel strongly about but they feel they didn’t find out until the last minute. She said the extra time will also allow councilors to have more time to study upcoming issues before the meeting.
Mo Merhoff, president of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, released a statement in support of the ordinance.
“Businesses should be provided with sufficient time to allow for those interested or affected by proposed legislation to respond should they deem such action is necessary,” she wrote. “Two business days are not enough to accomplish that due diligence and preparation.”
City Councilor Rick Sharp said he thinks the ordinance could be good for transparency and he always wants people to be able to speak their voice. While it’s true that many of the issues on the agenda go to committee, the public usually can’t speak their opinions during those meetings. Sharp said he understands that there’s work to be done at committee meetings, but at times it is appropriate to allow for public comment during those times if something new comes up or if he feels they haven’t been given adequate time to speak.
In order to not create extra work for the clerk of the council, Finkam said she is OK with making sure agendas are submitted earlier to be released earlier.