WHEELING - Despite some disagreement, members of Wheeling City Council's Rules Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding future council meetings earlier in the day.
The committee voted 2-1, with Councilmen David Miller and Eugene Fahey in favor and Councilman Robert "Herk" Henry against, to draft an ordinance that would move City Council meetings from their current 7 p.m. time slot to a schedule alternating between noon and 5:30 p.m. It must go through two readings before the full council before enactment.
Under the proposal, meetings would still take place on the first and third Tuesdays of each month as required by Wheeling's city charter. A plan to have council meet on Mondays instead had been suggested, but the committee chose to focus on the time instead rather than initiate the charter amendment process, which calls for a citywide vote.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Wheeling Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge makes a point during a meeting of City Council’s Rules Committee on Tuesday.
Mayor Andy McKenzie believes earlier meetings would be convenient for more residents to attend. He said the crowds seem to be larger when council holds noon meetings, as it did on Aug. 7 and a few times this past spring at local schools.
"You work all day, the last thing you want to do is go home, eat, then drive back downtown," said McKenzie.
Henry, however, believes the Aug. 7 meeting was well attended not because of the time but because of several proclamations that were presented to city employees and residents, and that the student population was largely responsible for the increased attendance at the school meetings. McKenzie said he was not including the students.
During the meeting, Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge expressed support for earlier meetings, saying she often feels bad for city employees who start work at 8 or 9 a.m. but must stay late to attend council meetings. And with alternating times, Fahey said, people who work steady afternoon shifts can at least come half the time rather than never, as is now the case.
Henry, however, believes residents are accustomed to the current schedule and said he won't support changing it.
"We're not going to get any more people," he said.
"You're not going to get any less," replied McKenzie, noting current meeting crowds are sparse save for a few faithful attendees.
Councilman Don Atkinson said no matter when meetings are held, he believes people with concerns to bring before council will find a way to get there.
"If people have an issue ... they're going to come if it's midnight," he said.