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Bossier City Council denies meeting time change

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Chris Smith – Bossier City Councilman Elect At Large

At Tuesday’s Bossier City Council meeting, the council denied amending a resolution that would have moved future city council meetings to 6:00 p.m. (instead of the current 3:00 p.m.meeting time).

At-large council member Chris Smith made the motion to approve amending the resolution. Council President Don Williams seconded the motion.

Before voting took place on this matter, both city council members and members of the audience made comments and asked questions.

The first member of the audience to address the council said, “Like a lot of citizens, I would like to see more inclusion and transparency. You go to the council meetings here in the middle of the day. I’m very blessed to be retired, so I can come here at three in the afternoon. But a lot of citizens in our community, I think you are aware, may not have the flexibility like financial advisors or insurance agents do who own their own business. I would like to see more citizen participation in this council. And, I think it’s very important if you can’t change all of your meetings, that several of your meetings should be held at six in the afternoon allowing more citizens to come forward and participate in our local government. So, I rise and support this motion,” said the audience member when addressing the council.

Councilman Smith addressed the council saying “This does more than just opening it up for more people to show up to the meeting. Obviously, that was the driver behind it……to get more citizens involved. And, I think to the average citizen, it’s easier to attend a six o’clock meeting.”

Smith went on to say, “The other thing it does is it also opens the door, if there is anyone in the community, who chooses to one day sit in one of these seats that we are sitting in. If you are currently running for the council, you have to be self-employed, retired or just have a very flexible work schedule to attend a three o’clock meeting in the afternoon,” he added.

Jeffery Darby, who represents Bossier City Council District 2, then addressed the council saying “This resolution before us today, council, is not new. I sponsored a resolution in the past to change the time of our meetings. And, they were held at various times by this council for a long time. And, I’ve had citizen district meetings. And most of the time, we had more department staff than citizens, no matter what the issue. The people are interested in what they are interested in.”

Darby continued, “I don’t have an issue having more citizen participation. I just know based on experience, there is a lack of participation at any given time. Whether it is six in the morning or six in the evening, people are not as interested as you would hope they would be,” he added.

Smith then addressed Darby by saying “In my heart, I do feel that we have more people wanting to be involved. I would be all for it, if we passed this today and there is no change. I would be open to talking about reversing it.”

Following Smith’s remarks to Darby, another member of the audience approached the council and asked if they would be willing to compromise on the time. “I would just ask a question, is it open for compromise in the time? Say four o’clock? A lot of people work 8-5. And if it was that important to them, they would lose one hour of work, instead of two,” said the audience member when addressing the council.

After hearing the question, Darby asked if Smith would be willing to amend the time on his resolution.

“At this time, I don’t know if four o’clock does anything. If you’re an employee and your employer doesn’t let you off to attend a council meeting, we would be stuck with the same. I’d be open to a compromise, say five or five-thirty. But at this time, I think six is what we should vote on,” said Smith.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, city council members:

Approved an ordinance to contract with Civil Design Group, LLC. to provide a Traffic Study for a turn lane located at the intersection at U.S. Highway 71 and Golden Meadows Drive.

Approved an ordinance to contract with Nixon Engineering Solutions to provide construction documents for drainage improvements along Parkway Drive and the Elm Grove Ditch.

Approved adoption of a resolution to fill a vacant Animal Control Officer in Animal Control.

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