‘Council Connect’ Debuts Tuesday
AMARILLO, TX – The City of Amarillo has announced a new citizen engagement tool related to public comment at Amarillo City Council: Council Connect. Council Connect will be an updated outlet for public comment previously scheduled for noon on Tuesdays. Council Connect will provide individuals an opportunity once a month to discuss topics directly with two councilmembers. The first Council Connect is scheduled for Sept. 3 (Tuesday) at 5:30 p.m. at Amarillo Downtown Library, 413 S.E. Fourth Ave.
According to the Texas Open Meetings Act, councilmembers are extremely limited in how they can respond to citizens during public comment. Council Connect addresses this issue by having two councilmembers present (which is not a quorum) to discuss issues with citizens in less restrictive environment that is more conducive to a productive dialogue. Council Connect will also be available in the evenings to increase public participation.
“The new format will greatly increase the availability of councilmembers at times and locations that are convenient to the public,” said Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller.
The public will also be able to address the council during the regularly-scheduled council meetings at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. Citizens will have three minutes to address items specifically related to the weekly city council agenda.
The incorporation of public address opportunities is related to House Bill 2840, which takes effect Sept. 1. HB 2840 is related to providing an opportunity for the public to address council before or during the consideration of each item on a meeting agenda. While the legislation has little impact on Amarillo, this provided an opportunity to make public comment more engaging and interactive for citizens and council alike.
“The new format (Council Connect) allows councilmembers to actively engage and have a conversation with citizens,” said Miller.
“We want to continue to create new and innovative ways for our citizens to get in front of city leadership in a way that is constructive and beneficial,” said Jordan Schupbach, Director of Communications for City of Amarillo.
In addition, there are several ways citizens can contact city officials: Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The City of Amarillo main line is (806) 378-3000. Online forms for questions/comments are available at www.amarillo.gov.