INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Commissioner Jose Coppen has come up with ideas to cut down on the inordinate length of City Commission meetings which have plagued the city for years.
"We get things done but only by the sheer amount of time we spend in conference," Coppen wrote in a letter to Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and his fellow commissioners. "We must do a better job of planning, coordination and execution of our agendas," Coppen wrote.
One of Coppen's ideas is that one member of the commission, probably the mayor, should review and okay agenda items based on priority.
Coppen, who was elected to an initial term on the commission in March, said he believes that the commission can do all its work in two meetings a month.
This is the pattern followed by many other cities in the area. Largo and Clearwater usually hold two work sessions and two regular meetings a month.
Coppen continued to bemoan in his August 4 letter the fact that the commission has not gone forward on his ideas for televising commission meetings and setting up a Community Redevelopment Agency.
In some dismay, Coppen cited receiving an e-mail from Al Grieshaber, the city manager, concerning the scheduling of a joint meeting with the city's Library Committee.
"Unbelievable, given our workload and the fact that the librarian has not come aboard yet," Coppen said.
He said that he has noted several times that the commission has had to change its schedule because applicants had changed plans or because of items that suddenly came up. "That is disrupting and lowers our efficiency," Coppen said.
"At the May 23 commission meeting I called your attention to the lack of focus in the activities coordinated by the City Manager. If Mr. Grieshaber alone is setting the agenda, I believe that prior approval by a commission's delegate is required," Coppen said in his letter.
While Coppen said he believed that the commission could take care of city business in two regular, three-hour meetings a month, he recognized that special workshops for budgets, etc. might be required from time to time.
As part of the preparation for meetings, Coppen said the commission "should demand a thorough analysis from staff, the recommendations of the advisory boards and any well supported suggestions from our residents. Staff should summarize the options available and the pros/cons of the one recommended before it gets to us."
He said that before the agenda is published, the mayor or vice mayor should approve it, according to the priorities set by the commission.
He pointed out many subjects that are scheduled for commission review but need not be taken up the commission, and he offered his own services in prioritizing items for inclusion in the agenda.
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