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The new Austin City Council is seeking feedback on an extensive restructuring of its decision-making process. The proposed plan aims to improve customer service and engagement for residents participating in City government decisions.  

In the past, long public hearings have caused Council meetings to carry on very late at night, and sometimes into the early morning hours. The inconvenient hours make it difficult for residents to attend and voice their opinions on major City decisions.

The restructuring would emphasize the use of Council committees to hold these public hearings before items reach the full City Council.  

The proposed changes include:

  • An altered approach to adding items to Council meeting agendas
  • A list of possible Council standing committees which could review proposed local laws and resolutions before they’re considered by City Council.
  • Better planning and management of the Council agenda to avoid late-night meetings
  • Easier and more complete access to Council committee and commission records.
  • A longer-term investigation into best practices for public engagement.

Join the discussion! Learn more about the proposed changes:

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Topics

Proposed strategies include:

  • Rotate Council meeting agenda items on a regular schedule by subject to save staff, public and Council time. Example: week 1 and 3 zoning, week 2 and 4 other items.
  • Hold Council meetings more frequently to reduce the number of agenda items per meeting and to end meetings at a reasonable time.
  • Move Executive sessions to a day other than Council meetings as appropriate

What are your thoughts on these proposals?

110 Responses

Proposed strategies include:

  • Move public hearings earlier in the process to Council Committees. At request of 4 Councilmembers, schedule additional public hearing before Council for a limited time period with the goal of establishing a time certain for testimony that is accessible for the public.
  • Assign all proposed ordinances/resolutions to Council Committees before being considered by the Council. (Does not apply to time sensitive items or items already further along in the process. This does not change the City Manager’s ability to bring items directly to the Council.)

What are your thoughts on these proposals?

59 Responses

The proposed strategies would include the creation of accessible documents that clearly explain Council processes to public.

What are your thoughts on this proposal?

26 Responses

Proposed strategies include discussing the following issues during a “deep dive” session with the entire Council for the purpose of soliciting ideas to enhance staff’s current engagement efforts:

  • Evaluate creating a mediator position (on staff or contract) to reduce conflict for planning, zoning, contracting, and purchasing issues.
  • Initiate a public process to research, obtain public input, and make recommendations to Council on best practices for public engagement in city government. Create Public Engagement Task Force supported by experts in public engagement best practices.
  • Align City Commissions with Council Committee structure over time to enhance public engagement and better address Commission recommendations.

What are your thoughts on this proposal?

35 Responses