Falls council discusses residents’ right to speak

By Eric Grosso

The mayor favors ending restrictions on comments at the start of meetings.

NEWTON FALLS — City officials are looking to amend council rules which would end limits on what topics residents could discuss at the start of council meetings.

Previously, residents wishing to address council at the start of meetings could only discuss items listed on the meeting agenda. If they wished to speak on another topic, they had to wait until the end of the meeting.

On Monday, council members discussed possible changes made to council rules, centering on what topics residents could discuss at the beginning and end of meetings.

Mayor Pat Layshock wanted to do away with limitations on speakers toward the start of meetings. “I’m serving the public. They have every right to give input on items not on the agenda and not have to wait until the end of the meeting to do so,” Layshock said.

Council member Ralph Gillespie, who worked on reviewing council rules last month, said the previous method of residents waiting to speak on nonagenda items until the meeting’s end would help move along other portions of the session.

“We’re not up here to listen to the public speak on any topic they want to at the start of the meeting. We’re here to conduct a business meeting,” Gillespie said.

Council did not change the current time limit of three minutes for public comments.

Council also discussed not requesting that the acting police chief and finance director attend every second meeting of the month.

Written reports from both positions will still be required. Those officials, however, will not be required to be at the meeting unless council or City Manager Jack Haney requests their presence.

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