Oak Harbor ponders meeting earlier

The Oak Harbor City Council may change its meeting start time pending public feedback.

The meetings, which take place every second and third Tuesday, normally start at 7 p.m.; however, the evening start time lengthens city staff members’ days.

Mayor Jim Slowik proposed that the meetings start one hour earlier — at 6 p.m. — in an effort to shorten the time staff must wait between the end of the work day and start of council meetings.

But Slowik also wants to make sure community members have enough time to get to the meetings after work.

Council members echoed the mayor’s concern.

“I’d like to be sensitive to staff ... but I don’t want to short-change the public either,” council member Beth Munns said.

Before the possible meeting time change goes before council, the city will conduct a survey to determine if the public prefers one time over the other.

During the special meeting Thursday the council also discussed the format of standing committee meetings and committee assignments.

The overall sentiment was that the standing committee meetings work well.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Councilman Rick Almberg said.

Councilman Jim Palmer concurred, but said he would like to see a little more public input.

“We’ve had some participation. I wish we had more,” he said.

Mayor Slowik hopes to increase public participation, too.

“I’d like to get a more specific agenda out to the public before the standing committee meetings,” he said, adding that the detailed agendas will likely create more work for staff.

The agendas currently list basic topics of discussion, but do not include details.

As far as the committee assignments, Munns suggested at least a two-year commitment to “get your feet on the ground.”

Longtime Councilman Danny Paggao agreed.

“I’m still learning,” he joked.

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