On the heels of recent, high-profile and publicly scrutinized Borough Council decisions, its members are looking to tighten up practices.
The council is trying out a system in which it has public comment in the beginning and end of the meetings if a topic comes up that wasn’t on the agenda. Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said it’s a good way to give the public a chance to sound off on issues that come up during the meeting.
This practice will begin as a six-month trial. Stewart said there is some concern that it will be cumbersome for the meetings because it could delay decisions, but the group wants to be accommodating to the public.
Stewart also will circulate a code of conduct that council members can opt to sign. Though it technically doesn’t come with a penalty if it’s not followed, Stewart said it has some strong guidelines.
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“We’re trying to look at our conduct and how we hold the meetings,” he said.
The borough received public push-back about some of the situations and votes surrounding the Garman Theatre controversy. Though Stewart said all of the protocols were followed and the situation was handled correctly, he said he wants to improve how things are done.
The six-page code of conduct document has 20 directives including acting in the public interest, informing themselves on public issues, acting impartially, not pushing private interests and following ethical conduct. The code is designed to encourage public confidence in the council.