Each year the City Council adopts fiscal policies, a capital improvement plan and an annual budget. From time to time, the City Council also approves a Master Plan to guide the city in the long -term.
As issues arise during the year, we take individual actions to deal with them. What the City Council does not do is to engage in open conversations to formulate short-term, biennial goals that staff can use to guide them in running their departments.
Currently, there is much frustration among councilors that they do not have the opportunity to discuss policy in broad terms, and that the City Attorney’s interpretation of NH RSA 91-A prevents them from debating issues that come up at Standing Committee meetings not their own. The interpretation is that a councilor who sits on one Standing Committee can only ask questions at the other two Standing Committee meetings. Stating his/her opinion at Standing Committee meetings not their own, it is thought, would constitute an illegal Council meeting. The City of Concord Council, for example, does not share this interpretation.
Three proposals made during the recent contentious budget process were criticized for being brought on at the eleventh hour, but under the current rules, could probably not have been discussed at other forums because of the timing of the City Manager’s budget presentation.
If we had a workable workshop plan, two high-profile events of late may have been averted.
I have asked the Mayor to refer this concern to the appropriate committee or committees to determine whether the City Council should hold biennial workshops with the goal of setting city-wide goals for each following biennium. It will be on the next City Council agenda, Thursday, July 2 at 7 pm.