Since I have taken over the city beat, I have been surprised at how short the Glens Falls Common Council meetings have been. On Tuesday, the main meeting began at 7:30 p.m. and lasted only 13 minutes. There were three public hearings scheduled before the meeting beginning at 7:10 p.m. on the budget, a local law allowing people to be buried with their pets’ remains and the sale of city-owned properties. No one spoke.
Mayor Jack Diamond attributed the lack of turnout on the budget hearing to people being satisfied with the spending plan.
“I discovered a long time ago if it’s relatively acceptable, you don’t see a large crowd,” he said following some brief comments about the budget and taxes.
There has not been a large crowd at any of the meetings I have gone to. The meetings are fairly short and nondescript.
I attended my first council meeting on Aug. 22 so my former colleague Maury Thompson could show me the ropes. I took over in September and have covered six meetings since then. None of them has lasted more than 40 minutes and range has been from 27 minutes to 39 minutes.
They consist of a public comment section at the beginning. Then, there are very brief committee reports from council members. Approval of the minutes of the last meeting and the report from the Building and Codes Department follows. Then, the mayor reads a series of resolutions that include budget transfers from one line item to another, local laws, street closure permits, etc. Those are all adopted by a roll-call vote.
There is little or no discussion on these items. Presumably, councilors have already reviewed the information and had their questions answered, but the public is not in on those conversations.
Then, the mayor calls for old business and usually there is none. That is followed by a little new business consisting of very short updates from the mayor and councilors. A second public comment period closes the evening and then adjourns the meeting.
I attribute part of the reason for the short meetings to the election season. There were no new initiatives on the docket as people were campaigning for re-election to the council. I’m hoping things will pick up as Mayor-elect Dan Hall takes office and begins some new projects. Some more lengthy reports and presentations on what department heads are doing would be great.
That is part of the reason why I attended the two budget workshops that were scheduled with department heads, so I can get more familiar with what was in the budget.
Meetings that are too long are unproductive, but meetings that are too short also left reporters — and the public — wanting more.