Council discusses city’s transparency during meeting


City officials decided July 23 that they’ll work to make the Aurora City Council agenda ready for public viewing the Thursday before a council meeting in an effort to be more transparent.

Currently, the full agenda is available for public viewing online the Saturday or Sunday before a council meeting.

At the request of Aurora City Councilman Bob LeGare, council members at their regularly scheduled study session meeting talked about giving people more time to comment on agenda items ahead of a formal council vote.

LeGare originally brought the issue forward because he said there aren’t enough opportunities for residents to comment on city contracts like economic incentive deals before they come to the floor for a full vote.

“Incentive deals go to the executive session and then they go into the (formal) agenda with nothing in between for the public,” LeGare said.

But the discussion turned toward transparency in general, and some council members said the public already has plenty of opportunity to weigh in on city proposals.

“I get a little frustrated when people say they don’t have input,” said Councilman Bob Roth.

Currently, the public can speak at ward meetings, City Council meetings, and attend policy committee meetings where new city proposals are first discussed, he said.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said the city should strive to be transparent, but there are times when contract negotiations could be compromised if information gets out to the public before negotiations are finalized.

“There are some things that come along that are either too complicated or too important (to share),” Hogan said.

Council members agreed to try and release the City Council agenda earlier in the week, on a Thursday, in order to give residents more time to comment. But there’s no guarantee that the city documents associated with each agenda item, commonly referred to as the “backup” will be ready by Thursday, Hogan said.

Also at the July 23 meeting, council members decided to postpone a vote to divert money from local nonprofit agencies to fund public safety equipment.

The proposal is to divert about $350,000 that would have otherwise gone to six local nonprofit agencies.

Those agencies are: Arapahoe House, Comitis Crisis Center, SungateKids, Gateway Battered Women’s Services, Aurora Mental Health, and the Metro Community Provider Network.

Executives from SunGate Kids and Gateway Battered Women’s Services said earlier this month they might have to cut some services if they didn’t receive that money.

They drafted a letter on July 18 asking council members to allow them more time to weigh in on the proposal.

Council members agreed July 23 that they should postpone voting on the proposal until they have more input from the agencies.