by Dennis Dalman
A motion to hold Sartell City Council meetings just once a month year-round was defeated 4-1 at the last council meeting.
Council member Steve Hennes voted in favor of the motion.
For the past couple of years, the council decided to meet only once a month, on the first Mondays of June, July, August and December, leaving an option open to call a second monthly meeting if needed.
Some recent council meetings have lasted less than 30 minutes because there were no pressing, controversial items on the agenda or because council members readily agreed on the business that had to be done.
Reactions from council members ranged from a willingness to give it a try to strong opposition.
Sarah Jane Nicoll said she would be comfortable with a decision to hold just one meeting a month if other council members want to do that. She noted how many meetings each month council members attend, other than council meetings. In just the previous few weeks, Nicoll had attended 10 meetings.
Amy Braig-Lindstrom said she is against the proposal because Sartell has so many projects planned and it will take more than one meeting per month to deal with those projects and related issues: the Verso property, new parks and trails, a community center and more.
“I was elected to serve, and I don’t have a problem to show up to serve,” said Braig-Lindstrom.
David Peterson said he was very hesitant about holding just one meeting per month, now with the city’s increases in growth and with the half-cent sales tax projects to be considered.
Mayor Joe Perske said he was opposed to reducing the number of meetings last year, and one-a-month meetings can become exhausting marathons when there is so much to decide, he added.
Several council members said having two meetings a month is also good because it allows residents to voice concerns during Open Forum sessions right before each meeting.
Hennes said he is in favor of once-a-month meetings because a second one can always be called if there is a need.
Although the once-a-month meeting proposal was voted down, the current policy will stand – having only one monthly meeting in June, July, August and December unless a second meeting is necessary.