Florence City Council discusses policy, procedures

Mayor addresses rumors about gun legislation

March 7, 2018 — On March 5, Florence City Council met at Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Main Station on Highway 101, one of several locations city staff has picked out for meetings while Florence City Hall undergoes an upgrade. The councilors discussed several topics, including council rules and procedures and projects at the Florence Municipal Airport.

Mayor Joe Henry opened the meeting by addressing people in attendance.

“We’re going to deviate a little bit from our normal opening since we have such a large audience here with us this evening. I’m going to talk a little bit about public comments, but first I would like to tell you that there is a big rumor going around town that ‘the mayor is going to take your guns away,’” Henry said. “I’m going to preface our meeting by saying there is nothing on the agenda this evening that involves any kind of gun legislation. There is none intended, and if we did intend to do so, we would be precluded by several state statutes from doing that.

“Since I have a number of them in a closet at home, at least while I’m the mayor, I will fight any type of attempt to put any type of gun legislation on our agenda.”

Several dozen people in the audience then applauded.

While Henry said that the city would still hold public comment, no one came forward to address the council about the rumor or other gun-related topics.

The issue of agenda items again came up later in the meeting while councilors continued a discussion on council rules and procedures with city staff and input from City Attorney Ross Williamson. The topic was a part of several work sessions in February.

City Recorder Kelli Weese said that the council is reviewing its rules and procedures to meet the current needs of the City of Florence. The last time they were reviewed was a decade ago.

“This is a chance for the council to look at, in a broad scale, what you do and what your standard policies are to make sure they fit the need of the city,” Weese said.

The main change proposed that will affect the public is the implementation of a speaker’s card for people wishing to address the council during open hearings or public comment periods.

“We took those comments, along with our current rules, our charter and a draft from the League of Oregon Cities, and meshed them into what we felt really worked for our city,” Weese said.

Councilor Susy Lacer had a list of several items that she wished to clarify in the updated rules, mostly in regard to the language used.

Henry also wished to make a change, saying that he thought the councilors should discuss further the option to keep items from the agenda that are precluded by state law.

“If we can’t do it, what’s the sense in putting it on the agenda?” Henry asked.

Councilor Ron Preisler said, “I think it would definitely inhibit people from expressing their views to the city council. That’s my biggest concern. Some things are legal, some things aren’t. Who is going to make that determination? Would we need a lawyer to come down and agree on agenda items? I’m asking a question, not giving my solutions. I think a lack of transparency would be something that I would be afraid of.”

 “It makes sense, under our rules for agenda items, to have the ability to exclude those items that clearly waste the council’s time,” Henry said. “I’m not interested in listening to someone’s opinion for three minutes about something that is illegal under state or federal law. That’s just my personal opinion.”

City Manager Erin Reynolds clarified that the mayor was speaking about going through the process of putting together agenda items for the council to address. That would not include public comment.

“We did talk about this at the work session about items on the agenda being in line with council goals, the city work plan and things that are in the budget — and in the spirit of moving the city forward and working on the business agreed upon by the city council,” Reynolds said. “Some of that discussion was ensuring that items on the agenda are those in which the city council can impact and make change in the community, where you have that authority, and can discourage requests that are known to maybe be outside the purview of the city council, and outside of your traditional roles and responsibilities.”

Under the current and planned revisions to the council’s rules and procedures, the council’s agenda items are agreed upon by staff and the mayor.

“If it becomes an agenda item, it requires staff to do some work, unless it’s just a discussion item, which we have very few of,” Henry said. “That was more along the line of my thought.”

The council’s discussion on the rules and procedures lasted about an hour. At that point, councilors and staff decided to wrap up the topic until they can hold a vote at a later time.

Councilor Joshua Greene said, “I think we’re setting a template (future city councils) can follow.”

In the consent agenda, the council approved Resolution No. 3, Series 2018, to authorize the city to accept a Critical Oregon Airport Relief (COAR) grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation for runway and taxiway rehabilitation and lighting improvements to the Florence Municipal Airport. This came up again when councilors authorized Reynolds to enter into a contract with Century West Engineering to provide civil and environmental engineering, professional land use planning and related professional services for projects at the airport.

Also at the meeting, councilors approved some design choices for the remodel of Florence City Hall, including selecting a red-brown color for the metal roofing that will be part of the design.

For more information or to find out where to access City Hall functions, visit ci.florence.or.us or stop by the Florence Public Works Facility at 2675 Kingwood St.

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