Beginning next month, the Colorado Springs City Council will start meetings earlier in the day.
Council meetings will begin at 10 a.m. instead of 1 p.m., through at least the end of the year. The new schedule will take hold for the Monday, Sept. 9 work session and the Tuesday, Sept. 10 regular meeting. The council will decide at the end of the year whether to make the schedule permanent, said Richard Skorman, council president.
Council members said they made the switch because meetings have run too late, with the panel talking deep into the evening.
“Our meetings have been going on too long,” Skorman said. “We’ve had several of them that went to 8 o’clock at night.”
Members say that they have been taking on more complex issues that require more time for fact-finding and discussion.
Councilman Bill Murray said that the panel gets caught up in discussing new issues, including how to regulate short-term rental properties like Airbnb.
“That should have been a simple discussion and it’s taken weeks,” Murray said.
Murray said some of the long talks could be shortened if the council was more professional. He said boosting the council’s $6,250 annual paycheck and offering research assistance could make meetings quicker.
Council-watcher Donna Strom has commented at meetings about Broadmoor land issues. She said the change “seems like a reasonable thing to do.”
She added the longer meetings could be emblematic of larger problems.
“I think it’s an indication that a lot of people are unhappy with things going on with our city,” Strom said.
Council members hope the time change won’t make it more difficult for the public to attend meetings and give input.
Skorman said the change might make it easier for residents.
“If they’re interested in citizens’ discussion, they may be able to get in and out and still get to work in the afternoon,” he said.
Council-watcher Kent Obee, a member of Protect Our Parks, agreed that the earlier time could allow people to get to work after lunch.
The move could also make it easier on residents who go to the meetings for land use issues that are discussed at the end of the meeting. Skorman said that council sometimes doesn’t get to those issues until late evening.
Andrew Jahnke, who attended the Tuesday meeting for a land issue, said council meetings held during the work day could be an inconvenience to working residents. He agreed with council members who said that there isn’t a better alternative.
“I don’t know how they can do it outside of 8 to 5 Monday to Friday,” Jahnke said.
Murray said that if members didn’t start meetings until after the end of the workday, some of the meetings could run until 2 a.m.
“If [residents] are interested in citizens’ discussion, they may be able to get in and out and still get to work in the afternoon.” Richard Skorman, City Council president