The Palo Alto City Council will consider tonight (Monday) whether to scrap a local ordinance that requires the city to publish council agendas in a local newspaper of general circulation.
The agendas are currently published in the Weekly, which gets mailed to local residences on the Friday before the council's Monday meetings.
The council agendas are also posted in a glass display at King Plaza, in front of City Hall, at local libraries and inside the City Council Chambers. They are also available on the city clerk's page on the city's website.
City Clerk Donna Grider, who proposed the policy changed, said the measure would "help the City's bottom line." The city had spent $18,640 on publishing council agendas in fiscal year 2009 and $35,000 in fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30.
The cost of each agenda runs between $480 and $1,200, depending on the size of the agenda.
Grider has recommended that the city delete the sentence in the existing ordinance that requires the city to "publish in a newspaper of general circulation" Instead, the city would be required to fax it to a newspaper.
Though the change is expected to save the city about $35,000, some residents have written letters to the city arguing that the new policy would undercut the council's public-outreach efforts. Natalie Fisher called the proposed new policy a "mistake."
"By eliminating the publication of the agendas, you will be decreasing the transparency of the city government," Fisher wrote.
Resident Carroll Harrington wrote to the council that she thinks it's "vital that the City continue to print the agendas in the local newspapers and not rely on happenstance that people have a computer, are online to see and/or subscribe to the agendas and minutes and will go to the library to see them."
She also noted that Civic Engagement was one of the council's top priorities in 2008 and 2009 and said it's "critical that the public be informed in every way possible."