City commission will discuss new rules for conducting meetings Tuesday

Alexander Ewald, Enid News & Eagle, Okla.
·3 min read

Apr. 20—City commissioners are set to discuss new rules for conducting meetings that would, among several changes, clarify public behavior.

As proposed in a new resolution to be discussed in a study session at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Stride Bank Center, members of the public would have to sign up prior to the meeting to comment on any item on the agenda.

After giving their names and their addresses, any person may address the governing body one time and for three minutes in public comment, but may not give their time to another speaker.

Disruptive or aggressive behavior could result in "enforcement of decorum," with offenders possibly being asked to cease this conduct, leave the meeting or otherwise be subject to removal by the marshal or another law enforcement officer.

"Many municipalities do not include this item on agendas," the proposed public comment section reads. "This tradition has long been extended to the public in Enid and has served Enid well. If this courtesy is abused, it could be discontinued."

Commissioners will discuss the resolution Tuesday, then presumably vote on it in May.

The most recent city meeting saw members of the public attempting to speak to the commission without signing up beforehand, partially in response to a city commissioner's comments and language.

The proposed rules also specify that the meeting's presiding officer — in this case Mayor George Pankonin — may suspend rules such as allowing a person to speak longer than the three minutes or take an item of business out of order.

Only the presiding officer also would be allowed to call a governing body member, whose speech is covered by legislative immunity — to order for a lack of decorum.

City Attorney Carol Lahman, who drafted the resolution, said state laws and city charter rules supersede Robert's Rules of Order over parliamentary procedure.

Lahman said she also added a section on specific motions such as tables, amendments and calls to end debate.

Items can be tabled indefinitely, until an event occurs or to a specific meeting, according to the resolution.

Lahman said meetings have had rules since the 1980s, but were not referred to often and not followed consistently.

These changes would apply to meetings of Enid City Commission, Enid Municipal Authority, Enid Economic Development Authority and Enid Public Transportation Authority, which all are held as orders of business during city commission meetings.

Commissioners then will vote on over a dozen consent items during the regular meeting that follows at 6 p.m.

Among the 17 approvals and awards is a resolution approving a settlement agreement that includes potable and industrial water sale contracts with the city and Koch Fertilizer Enid.

Koch will purchase potable water from Enid Municipal Authority at a set commercial rate that will fluctuate and be re-calculated each January over the 20 years its agreement is in effect.

Koch also will purchase industrial water from EMA at 50 cents per 1,000 gallons, effective May 1. This rate will increase by 2% annually beginning July 2022. The agreement will last 20 years, until June 30, 2041.

The city commission also will hold a public hearing on funding recommendations from the Community Development Block Grant Funding Committee.

Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to aewald@enidnews.com.