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Lathrop cutting council meetings to once a month

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POSTED October 17, 2017 1:23 a.m.

In the last year the City of Lathrop has canceled 11 of its bi-monthly city council meetings because of overlap with holidays.
And the frequency at which scheduled meetings were being canceled had become a talking point for some regulars who were up upset by the inconvenience of scheduling around events that were eventually scrapped.
So on Monday, by a narrow 3-2 vote, the Lathrop City Council eliminated any sort of scheduling issues completely for the upcoming calendar year – planning instead on doing all of the city’s business in a single monthly meeting.
“I think this is the best thing that has come before the council in a long time,” frequent speaker Dan Doyle – who has complained about cancelled meetings in the past – told the council. “I think this would be a 100 improvement over the way that things are right now, and I can’t see anything wrong with this proposal.”
Not everybody was as enthusiastic about eliminating one of the two opportunities that the public has to address their elected officials in an open forum every month.
Councilwoman Martha Salcedo said that she was initially in favor of the proposal because there have been times in the past that the city has struggled to fill an agenda but proceeded anyway, however she didn’t agree with taking away the opportunity for the public to come and speak to those who make decisions affecting their lives.
For Vice Mayor Paul Akinjo – who was skeptical of the council’s decision to switch to a bi-annual budget cycle to cut down on staff preparation costs because it removed the chance for public input – the move away from conducting the public’s business in public twice-a-month was “getting too far away from the public” for his tastes.
According to Lathrop City Clerk Teresa Vargas, the city utilizes at least 100 staff hours in preparation for every meeting – a number that City Manager Steve Salvatore said was on the low side in certain months because of the scale of some of the projects that come before the council – and the proposal that was before the council would allow the possibility of leaving the traditional meeting nights open in the event of special council meetings that could be called in accordance with existing California law.
Councilman Mark Elliott, however, saw the move not just as efficient, but convenient as well – leaving open the traditional first and third Monday evenings for study sessions that are frequently held at times in which not everybody in the community can attend.
Salvatore said that with the lion’s share of the River Islands planning and approvals already cleared, and the remaining two large development projects expected to be handled by the end of the year, the remaining development-related agenda items will likely be maintenance processes for each of the respective projects as they move through the development process.
The first meeting that will be affected by the council change will be the first meeting in January of 2018 – which will be held on the Jan. 8, the second Monday of the month as opposed to the first or third. That cycle will repeat itself throughout the calendar year except for the meeting of Nov. 19, which is being pushed back a week not to coincide with the Veteran’s Day holiday.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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