Leander City Council

Leander City Council to consider public comment restrictions, art funding

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The Leander City Council will consider Thursday a proposal to limit public comments to only agenda items and establish decorum rules for council meetings.

The public comment proposals drafted by Council members Chris Czernek and city legal staff generated controversy and debate at the last council meeting, particularly around limiting comments to agenda items. Citizens who spoke during the public comment section argued the change would limit their ability to discuss positive news, put the power to control when topics are discussed publicly in the hands of the council members and dampen their ability to try to convince council members to change policies.

Czernek said the proposal is meant to make council meetings more efficient and have them “run more like a business meeting,” noting late meetings can often result in city staff having 12-hour work days.

Under the proposal discussed by the Leander City Council on Thursday, the following aspects of their meeting's public comments would change:

  • Public comment section will be limited to only discussion of agenda items,
  • If more than 10 people sign up for comments, every speaker would have their speaking time reduced from 3 minutes to 2 minutes.
  • Citizens attending the meeting with signs would be required to sit in the back two rows or stand in the back of the chambers.
  • Under new decorum rules, the public will be prohibited from shouting, side conversations, booing, stomping, singing or other behaviors during council and commissioner meetings.
  • The mayor or presiding officer will be able to order someone to leave the meeting room if violations of these decorum rules continue. If the individual is unwilling to leave, the mayor or presiding officer may recess the meeting and subsequently order a police officer to remove the person from the meeting room.

The council will also consider working with the Leander Public Arts Commission to draft an ordinance amendment to the Park Land Dedication, Park Improvement and Park Land Fee-in-Liue regulations to create a dollar amount per dwelling unit that is assessed specifically to funding the acquisition of public art for the City of Leander.

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