Amarillo City Council considering changing weekly meeting time to 7 a.m.

On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council stunned many of the citizens in attendance by discussing the possibility of moving its weekly meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. City Council members were open to trying the new time for 90 days.

“I would like the mornings. It allows you to get it (meeting) out of the way.

"I would be for changing and would like to see us try it for 90 days. Tuesday’s at 7 a.m., public comments first and the work session next," Councilman Howard Smith said.

Councilman Eddy Sauer said he would like to keep the public comment portion at the beginning of a morning meeting agenda.

“I know this may not sound great, but if we are going to consider a morning meeting, I would prefer we would start it early enough so that public comment could be made before people have to go to work

“You may not want to be here at 7 a.m., but I would be more apt for 7 a.m. or 7:30 to allow for public comment, making it as available as we possibly can for the citizens," Sauer said.

City officials did not give a date on when the possible move to mornings might occur.

“If we have advertised a meeting starting in the evening, we’re not going to change that meeting. We would wait until all advertised meetings have taken place before we experiment with anything," Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said.

One of the main reasons given for the proposed time change was having to pay overtime to city workers who are are required to attend city council meeting.

“It’s something I require, but something all of my predecessors have required as well. You want to make sure your senior staff responsible for implementing council guidelines and direction have context with that direction.

"The best way to gain context is to be present and hear the discussion and deliberation," Miller said.

Councilwoman Elaine Hayes said while there would still be some overtime for city workers attending meetings, it would be capped by moving the start time to the morning hours.

"We would still have overtime, 7 to 8 a.m. It’s just capped, because if you start at 5 p.m., then overtime is open-ended.

"We’re not eliminating all of the overtime, we’re just capping it," Hayes said.

Hayes went on to say she would like to keep the weekly meetings on Tuesday.

“I definitely like Tuesday. It gives you one more day if you’re traveling out of town. Everybody gets back in and lands Monday.

"On Tuesday so many things happen at council meeting, where staff is implementing or needing follow up. So if you’re doing it on Wednesday, you’ve already lost that week," Hayes said.

Councilwoman Freda Powell expressed concern about the impact of moving the meeting to a morning time slot would have on the public being able to attend the sessions.

“My biggest concern would be for citizens having an opportunity to be able to come to us, speak and share their concerns.

“Some of our citizens are still working, especially the ones that are hourly employees. They just can’t leave their job and that might be the same way in the morning," Powell said.

Mayor Ginger Nelson said she was also open to moving the meeting to Tuesday mornings.

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