January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized By: Dave Emerson
A couple of reasons were publicly given for cutting the number of meetings in half: Cost savings and greater staff efficiency.
Guess how much was actually saved?
According to our City Manager’s math in her Staff Report on Tuesday Night’s Agenda Item 10 B, “Cost Savings of One City Council Meeting Per Month,” $2,533 per meeting.
And that number’s probably way too high. For one thing, it assumes meetings are 5 hours long, whether they are held once or twice a month. That contradicts both common sense and practical experience.
For another, it assumes no special meetings will be held, which has not been the case.
Let’s say monthly meetings are 5 hours long on average, and bi-monthly ones are 3.5 hours long, and the prep meetings the City Attorney attends are also 30% shorter. Then the savings is actually cut in half, to about $1,250 per meeting.
Throw in a Special Meeting every third month reduces the savings by another 33%, roughly.
Then the annual cost of two meetings a month becomes 8 less meetings x $1250, or $10,000. About 1/10 of a percent of Los Alamitos’ annual budget.
The benefits of a second meeting? For starters:
- Meetings could start at 7:00, not 6:00, making it easier for the people to observe and participate.
- Meetings would be more apt to end by 10:00, rather than running until midnight.
- Shorter meetings = shorter agendas = better focus on the issues at hand.
- Items could be addressed in a timely fashion.
The other benefit of only one meeting per month, in the words of the staff report, is
Besides the stated cost savings of having only one meeting per month, staff has been able to more effectively plan, execute and evaluate projects without the continuous cycle of preparing for the next City Council meeting.
That’s hard to quantify, but it would seem like that could be minimized with proper organization and planning.
A third alternative?
There are other alternatives as well. For example, City Council Meetings could be held every third week, regardless of where that falls in the calendar.
On the whole, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about these once a month meetings as the Staff report seems to be.
What do you think?