AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week’s Austin City Council meeting agenda is jam-packed with almost 200 items to debate.
This means that Thursday’s meeting will likely last late into the night.
For District 6 City Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly, this is nothing new.
“It’s game on, we can be there until two, three o’clock in the morning,” she said. “Just to get business done.”
District 1 City Councilwoman Natasha Harper-Madison said that this problem has persisted for quite some time, and it’s taking a toll.
“It’s hard on council members, hard on our staff and it’s hard on the public,” she said.
“When we have council meetings that go into the wee hours of the morning, it really limits public participation when we’re making very important decisions,” Kelly added.
To speed things up, the City of Austin has put in place a new rule that allows all remote speakers to talk before in-person speakers.
In a statement, a city representative told KXAN the following:
“This will hopefully help remote speakers be able to stay on the line and get to speak without their calls dropping or having phone call interruptions where they would need to hang up and may lose their place in the speakers’ line.”
Yet Kelly believes it’s not enough.
“I don’t believe that one to three minutes for the public to give feedback is enough time to really listen and consider,” Kelly said. “Before we make any decisions about how we’re going to vote.”
In order to make better-informed decisions, some local leaders are open to adopting a measure similar to San Antonio City Council.
That city has an additional day of public comment, prior to its city council meetings.
“It doesn’t necessarily enhance the benefit of our constituents for us to belabor our deliberation,’ Harper-Madison concluded.
In an effort to pick up the pace of meetings, council members recommend reaching out to their respective offices about their issues so that they can speak on behalf of their district.