Report from Town Hall, 8/7/2010

This is the same report I posted earlier on the Yahoo discussion lists, minus the parts that don’t relate to the charter review.

For those who were unable to attend:

Very briefly & quickly, and not an official account. I was presenting and on my
feet most of the time, not taking notes. I hope anyone who was there will
add/correct:

On the charter review, the majority agreed that we should go ahead with the
process as presented. No one was in disagreement that I saw (show of hands to
indicate strength of support or opposition). A fair number of people have said
they will likely take on a role (we needed to know if enough people will be
interested in researching different options, getting out publicity, etc., but we
were not asking for specific commitments with one exception).

The schedule as published has a tight timeline, appropriate for issues that are
relatively easy to decide about and can be decided by home rule. More complex
issues could require more research and discussion (such as whether we want to
change to another form of government – city manager, city commission, weak mayor
– strong council, ceasing to be a city).

Karen Bernheimer has volunteered to join Kathie & me on the facilitation team.

Challenges identified:

*Dependent on people volunteering, otherwise it will be similar to more closed
commission process used by many cities.
*Have to do a lot more to let people who are not online know. PLAIN *Talk
supposed to be out soon but that’s hit or miss. We have a volunteer to deliver
a brochure to houses – WE NEED MORE FOR THIS.
*How to weave together physical meetings and online discussions? (We will
probably establish a separate discussion group just for Charter review. I have
been looking at alternatives to Yahoo over the last 24 hours, but we’ll probably
stick to Yahoo because most people are already familiar with it. Suggestions
welcome).
*Some residents willing to work on this but need really good input from public
officials who know most about strengths and weaknesses of any of the charter –
many citizens don’t have that familiarity (I will be interviewing the rest of
council members and city officials before the kick-off meetings later this
month).

Greg Z., Greg C., Bitsy & Kathie were there – the issues they have identified so
far are:

* current strong mayor – weak council system relies too much on mayor and
council members to become experts in government
* consider adding another check into admin system: should CFO report to COO?
*does charter really need to go into such detail on job descriptions of city
clerk and administrator?
* consider channging fiscal year to start 9/1, so it’s closer to when tax $ is
turned over by DeKalb County

Of course there was a lot more.

Elisabeth Shields
Originally written and posted in Yahoo Pine Lake discussion groups on 8/8/2010

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