Members of the Town Council last night considered whether to further change their meeting schedule, and potentially do away with the current back-to-back bimonthly work sessions and regular business meetings.
Last month, council members supported a change to meeting times, now beginning all meetings at 7 p.m. rather than 7:30 p.m. However, one issue that has been debated over the years, never finding consensus, has been whether to change the arrangement of its current four monthly meetings.
Since 2000, the Town Council has met on the second and fourth Monday nights for its work sessions. The following Tuesday nights, the council reconvenes for regular business meetings. Members of the council and the town staff have noted that the back-to-back nights can be grueling at times, with some meetings stretching into the late-night hours, only to return again the following evening. It is a particularly challenging schedule for town staff, Town Manager Kaj Dentler noted, as they are the ones responsible for getting back to the Town Council with any needed information in advance of Tuesday night’s meeting, as well as preparing for other agenda items. And if the Tuesday night meeting is also a late night, it can make for a particularly tiring week, he said.
“The system is draining on staff physically and mentally. It’s really Thursday before we’re back to normal,” he said. But Dentler emphasized if the council wants to continue with the current schedule, his staff would make it work.
He presented the council with two options to consider, taking a cue from other nearby localities with how they schedule their council meetings. Leesburg is unique in its back-to-back night scheduling, he noted. The first option would have the council meeting every Tuesday evening—the first and third meetings for work sessions, and the second and fourth for regular business meetings. The second option would have a work session the first Tuesday, and business meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays. The third Tuesday would not have a regularly scheduled meeting, but would be open if the council wished to hold an additional work session.
While four council members—Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox and council members Ken Reid, Hugh Forsythe, and Ron Campbell—expressed interest in looking at one of the two options, a council majority could not be found to support one option over the other. Campbell preferred the first option, while the others preferred the second. Fox said her preference would be to keep the schedule as it is, but said she is amenable to a change for staff’s sake.
Mayor Kelly Burk and council members Marty Martinez and Tom Dunn all said they were content to keep things the way they are. Burk pointed to experience on the Board of Supervisors, where between regular board meetings, public hearings, and committee assignments made for a heavy workload.
“I’m concerned that there wouldn’t be a break and we’d end up having to meet every week,” she said. “It does give some relief that we have that one week that we’re not expected to attend meetings.”
As there were not four votes to support any one option, the matter is not currently scheduled for a Town Council vote.