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New citizen input policy passes

 

Tommie Ross, of Columbus, was one of many in the courtroom for the city board meeting Tuesday. Ross, who was late arriving to the 5 p.m. meeting, was on the citizen input agenda regarding the Columbus Police Department.

Tommie Ross, of Columbus, was one of many in the courtroom for the city board meeting Tuesday. Ross, who was late arriving to the 5 p.m. meeting, was on the citizen input agenda regarding the Columbus Police Department. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

 

Nathan Gregory

 

City councilmen approved a new policy Tuesday requiring residents fill out a form six days in advance of a council meeting if they want to speak at council meetings. 

 

The new policy also limits speaking time to five minutes and limits a citizens opportunity to address the council to three times a year. 

 

The vote to implement the policy passed, 4-2, with councilmen Gene Taylor and Marty Turner opposed. Both voiced opposition to the stipulation that citizens only be allowed three appearances per year. 

 

The policy also mandates that the topic the person wants to discuss be related to official government issues. 

 

Requiring residents to submit their request form by the Wednesday before a meeting means they won't know what's on the upcoming agenda, because a preliminary version of the agenda is not made public until the Thursdays before the meetings. 

 

 

 

Bond issue formally approved 

 

The council also approved the final resolution authorizing issuing a $5 million general obligation bond for capital improvements. The city is expected to receive the money in late July to spend on road paving, drainage work and sidewalk projects. City millage will increase from 40.13 to 41.23 mills as the debt is paid off over 15 years. The property tax increase will not be in effect before Oct. 1. 

 

A citywide infrastructure survey identifying $6.3 million in infrastructure needs in the city's six wards has been completed but has not been condensed into the $4.5 million budget the city will have for the work once fees are taken out of the $5 million for engineering, project managing and legal services. Each ward will receive about $750,000 for improvements. The bond issue will be paid off over 15 years.

 

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.

 

 

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