Trial period begins for shorter minute format at Darien BOS meetings
Published 4:56 pm, Thursday, January 6, 2011
After intense debate Monday night, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a measure to begin a trial period for using a shorter minute format at its meetings.
First Selectman David Campbell proposed the option of using the new format because TV79 offers coverage of all the meetings. The new format would use shorter action minutes as opposed to the longer and more traditional full meeting minutes.
The new format, which is in its three-month trial period, will still meet the legal requirements for meeting minutes, but will not contain all the details for votes and motions.
"Anybody can look at our meetings online whenever they need to," Campbell said. "That level of detail is no longer necessary."
There are added benefits to adopting the new format which would include reducing the amount of work required to compile the minutes, and possibly reduce costs because the town hires a private company to take minutes during the meeting.
Administrative Officer Karl Kilduff said the savings would depend on how long the meetings lasted, but Campbell estimated the savings at $1,500 to $2,000 for the year.
According to Kilduff, the town spends about $4,125 on the firm each year.
Republican Selectman Jayme Stevenson saw the change as a positive because she believed the meeting minutes would be more accurate since the selectmen tended to correct the minutes from memory.
"There have been times when we have had trouble remembering minutes and I have found that uncomfortable," Stevenson said.
Democratic Selectman Callie Sullivan acknowledged that she looked at TV79 to review meetings but felt that the longer minute format gave a better sense of what occurred during meetings.
"It is much easier to go back and look quickly at the flavor of the conversation," Sullivan said. "What is on the website is very slow to load and by the time you look at three or four meetings, it takes hours."
Democratic Selectman David Bayne agreed that the traditional minute format could get too long but he added that he would like to see the minutes preserve some context in regards to votes.
"You do to get to go back and see where we were when we last met," Bayne said.
Instead of trying to permanently institute the new format for the minutes, Campbell suggested the board compromise by giving the shorter format a three month trial period. The board would address the issue at the end of the three months and decide whether or not to continue using the new format.
Unlike its neighbor, New Canaan does not hire an outside firm to take minutes during town meetings. Instead, the town leaves the minute taking responsibilities to each individual commission, the town clerk's office said.
Kilduf said Darien doesn't use town employees because it would result in overtime.