Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - One of the standing complaints for those who have attended Missoula City Council meetings over the years is the sheer amount of time some have to wait to make public comment.

New Missoula Mayor Andrea Davis made some suggestions after presiding over the first few meetings in her tenure, specifically to benefit those visitors who were there for public comment.

Changes in the City Council Meeting Agenda

City of Missoula Public Information Officer Ginny Merriam provided this explanation of the proposed changes.

The purpose of the changes is to put a priority on Council business. Council business items are those noticed on the agenda, such as public hearings and new business, which have been publicly noticed. Public comment on non-agenda items will be heard later in the meeting. Constituents attend Council meetings to comment on and observe these publicly noticed pieces of business that are set for Council action. Previously, these constituents may wait an hour or more during public comment on non-agenda items, which may or may not be pertinent to public life. In addition, City staff, staff from other agencies, consultants, developers, and others are waiting for discussion and action on noticed items. Council members cannot act on non-noticed items.'

Council President Amber Sherrill's Remarks on the Changes

KGVO News spoke with Missoula City Council President Amber Sherrill of Ward 4 about the first experience with the new changes at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“The format and the lineup of how we did agenda items before had our public hearings, our final consideration all these actionable items that we need staff there for,” began Sherrill. “We need partners there, whether it be a nonprofit or a developer or something there for these action items, and we’re sitting through really long meetings, and that was a lot of staff time.”

Sherrill said the new format helps to consolidate issues for discussion in the city council meeting.

“Say someone from the schools comes in, and someone in the neighborhood has an issue with this street, or whatever it is, it is right there beside our council comment and the mayor's comments so we have an opportunity to interact,” she said. “Sometimes what happens is before is that someone would come in at the beginning of the meeting and then however many hours later I would respond that they're not still there, right? So anyway, those were some of the reasons.”

READ MORE: Missoula Council Votes to Put $7 Million Fire Levy on the Ballot

Sherrill said People Could Make their Comments and then Leave the Meeting

Sherrill said visitors to the meeting definitely were able to make their point and leave much earlier.

“Definitely, people made their point and left, so I would guess that they were really happy about the changes,” she said. “Maybe some people had to stay longer and weren't. It was interesting though because, for the public comment on non-agenda items, I noticed the group that came in to talk last night just came to the meeting later, right? They didn't show up right at six o'clock, but I know there were people that came in did their thing, and left, so I would guess that if I was one of them, I would have been happy.”

Click here to see Monday night’s Missoula City Council meeting.

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