Council members often don't get a chance to review data before workshops.
City Council members would like more of a chance to preview the data they’ll be expected to discuss during council workshops.
Copies of presentations city staff members make during council workshops are often added to an online packet of workshop backup materials as late as minutes before the 9 a.m. workshop — or, in some cases, aren’t added at all until someone points out their absence — giving City Council members and residents little chance to familiarize themselves with the issues that will be discussed during the workshop before it begins.
At a workshop July 31, after a 15-page , chart-and-graph-laden presentation on utility rates was added to the workshop’s online backup material package the morning of the workshop, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland criticized that approach.
“I know historically we wait until the workshops to get serious backup material that we can review,” she said. “I have in-between moments where I can really dive in and read material. ... I know that each person on this council works a lot, so I would like to see if we can get some of this in advance so I can read it. Especially when you’re talking about impact fees or utility budgets, I’m trying to delve into that so I can come prepared. ... I want to be able to understand and look at the issue before I get to the workshop.”
“The fact of it is, the utility [presentation] — we saw it and finalized it 3 or 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon,” City Manager Jim Landon said. “We could hit the button and send it to you on our way out. ... Most of the presentations you’re seeing ... these long ones, lots of times they’re finalized Monday.”
Council workshops and meetings are held on Tuesdays.
“We have a meeting every week, so ... I don’t know that it’s going to be ready much before the Monday before the Tuesday,” Landon added. “And Mayor, the concept behind this is, you get this in a workshop, but then you have another whole week ... before you have to take action.”
Councilman Nick Klufas said he agreed with Holland, saying he’d like more time to prepare.
“Preparing for this meeting wasn’t finished until even probably after 5 o’clock yesterday,” Landon replied.
“I just think the budgetary items are important,” Holland said. “I just have to understand the issue as whole. And I think, as presented, you present it always as ‘part of our strategic action plan.’ ... You’re not presenting something that’s not been deliberated by this council and discussed and highlighted and everything else, but the details for me would just be really important.”
“I have no problem with that, I’m just saying, if it’s not ready, I can’t get it to you,” Landon said. “And when you have a meeting every week, to expect staff to be two weeks ahead is not practical.”
Earlier this month, the council voted down a proposal to spend $100,000 on the design of a new rec center. Landon had presented it as part of the city’s strategic action plan, but the council ultimately voted unanimously against the design expenditure. City Councilwoman Heidi Shipley criticized Landon for having put the proposal on the consent agenda, a decision which assumes no discussion would take place.
Other local government boards generally post presentations online further ahead of the meetings and workshops, but they meet less often: The County Commission and School Board meet about every other week, while the Palm Coast City Council hold a meeting or workshop almost every week.