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City looks to become more 'public-friendly'
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    In a move towards becoming more public-friendly, Statesboro City Council members discussed changes to their biweekly meetings during a workshop after Tuesday’s morning meeting.
    Councilman Travis Chance, with support from Councilman John Riggs, proposed changes to the city council meeting’s agenda that would include an opportunity for three speakers to address items on the agenda during the first portion of the meetings, and would allow citizens to stand and speak briefly about other issues at the end of the meeting.
    Chance said no action was taken during the workshop, which only had three council members in attendance; himself, Riggs and Gary Lewis. Councilmen Tommy Blitch and Will Britt did not attend Tuesday’s council meeting or the work shop afterward.
    Chance said the changes are only proposed ideas and have not been implemented. The council and other city employees are reviewing whether the changes would have to be voted upon or if they could just be added to the agenda, he said.
    If the proposed changes are made, the first three people to sign up to speak at each meeting would have three minutes each in order to comment upon items on the agenda. City Council meeting agendas would be made available to the public prior to the meeting, he said.
    Then, while council members will not directly respond or interact with citizens, the comments made by citizens could be considered during discussions before a vote takes place, he said.
    “We are trying to keep some sort of decorum” while encouraging more input from citizens, Chance said.
    Later, close to the end of the meetings, public participation may be encouraged where citizens will be able to bring up issues of concern, he said.
    The proposal will be discussed further in future meetings, he said.
    Statesboro City Council members voted during Tuesday’s meeting to extend interim city manager Frank Parker’s contract by 30 days.
    Parker has a “rolling 30-day contract” which can be up for renewal each month. Council members are still negotiating terms with Parker regarding his extended service while the city seeks a permanent city manager.
    City Council members voted to enter into a “memorandum of understanding” with the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority regarding the “development of a downtown master plan,” said Statesboro staff attorney Michael Graves. The total cost of the market studies would cost around $59,000, of which the city agreed to pay up to $30,000.
    The payment would consist of paying invoices for the study as they come in, not $30,000 at once, he said. The money is budgeted through community development funds, he said.
    Council also heard Parker discuss meetings he has had with Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Chapman, Georgia Southern University President Dr. Brooke Keel, and Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch regarding a possible “resurrection of the town and gown committee” which would meet on a regular basis.
    Parker said the partnership would benefit all parties involved and renew old alliances, and said the idea is still in the works. “We’re in the process of putting together some sort of proposal.” he said.

    Holli Deal Bragg maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.

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