LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Lexington Urban County Council is weighing transparency and practicality as it considers a change in what items need to be publicly addressed at a full council meeting.
The Council’s general government committee passed an ordinance Tuesday allowing deeds and easements, equipment maintenance contracts, grant agreements, and the acceptance of donations to be considered under legislative review during work sessions. That means those items would not have to be voted on as part of a resolution during Thursday night council meetings.
“The idea was to take things like accepting a truckload of soil as a gift to the government, things like that, take it off of the agenda,” said council member Ed Lane.
The rules change was first proposed four years ago when council meetings were known to drag on for several hours. It was also costing Lexington tens of thousands of dollars each year to publish resolutions in the Herald-Leader newspaper.
Since then, the council has established council work sessions on Tuesday afternoons to discuss agenda items. The contract with the Herald-Leader was also adjusted to use a smaller text font and save money.
Council member Steve Kay says with streaming video and public documents available through the city's website, it makes sense to further streamline the council's meetings.
“I’m not convinced that reading things twice in regular council sessions is information for the public. I think it’s a rote exercise. It doesn’t provide any more information than is available before that; it simply takes up time.”
Not all council members are in favor of the change. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton thinks the information needs to be read during Thursday council meetings so it can be part of Lexington’s official record. And council member George Myers contends that not all citizens have access to the Internet or are able to attend the Tuesday work sessions.
“Our biggest responsibility to the taxpayer is to keep them informed and allow them the opportunity to say yea or nay on the things we’re trying to do,” said Myers.
The rules change now goes to the full council for consideration.