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Shorter council meetings?

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The Durant City Council has implemented a plan to streamline its regular council meetings.

“It’s an attempt to help reduce the time of some of our longer meetings,” said Mayor Jerry Tomlinson.

Prior to its December meeting the council, held its first council staff briefing in the large conference room adjacent to the council’s meeting room in city hall. Tomlinson said the briefing was a chance for councilmembers to ask questions and get information on specific agenda items before voting on them.

“It’s a chance to get some of that discussion or questions answered prior to the actual meeting,” Tomlinson said.

City Manager Tim Rundel recommended the plan as a way to streamline the regular meetings. He pointed out that in the past few months some meetings have run as long as five hours. He said several other cities use the briefings to inform councilmembers before the regular meeting, so they can handle public business in a timely manner.

“We’re trying to be more respectful of the public’s time, the staff’s time and the council’s time,” Rundel said.

Tomlinson said that since briefings are public meetings, the date, time and location of all briefings will be posted in accordance with state law. He added that, while attendance at the first briefing in December was sparse, the public is welcome.

“As folks become more aware of it there may be more that come,” Tomlinson said.

Rundel stressed that the council will take no official action during the briefings. All city business will be conducted in accordance with state law, Rundel said.

“There will be no debate or discussion, it’s for information only as a way to expedite the meetings,” Rundel said.

Tomlinson added that councilmembers know the open meetings law and that city staff will also be on hand.

“The city attorney and city manager will be there to get us back on track if we go astray,” he said.

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