Palo Alto will continue to publish City Council agendas in a local newspaper, though these agendas will soon look a little slimmer and much less formal, the council voted 7-2 Monday night.
The ordinance requires the city to publish agendas in a "newspaper of general circulation." The city publishes its agendas in the Weekly, which gets mailed to residents on the Friday before the Monday meetings.
The ordinance applies only to meetings of the full council meetings council standing committees, not to other city committees or commissions, which show up in departmental budgets.
City Clerk Donna Grider proposed eliminating the publishing requirement, to save the city about $35,000 in the current fiscal year.
Agenda publication cost the city about $20,000 in the last fiscal year (not $35,000 as Grider initially reported). She estimated that the cost would rise this year up to $35,000 because the council now has a High-Speed Rail Committee that meets several times a month.
Councilman Larry Klein and Councilwoman Gail Price were the only council members who supported Grider's proposal. Klein said most people don't read the agendas in the newspaper and that younger people get their information in other ways.
The rest of the council voted to continue publishing the agendas, but in a slightly different form.
Councilwoman Karen Holman said the cost of publicizing the agendas in the newspaper is a "very low price to pay for transparency that we all strive for in this community."
Mayor Pat Burt suggested summarizing the items in "common language" and including links to the city's website for more information.
The agenda summaries would be shorter than the full agenda, which the council agreed would keep advertising costs down. Residents would be able to view the full, formal agenda on the city's website.
Six council members agreed with Burt's proposal, with Greg Scharff calling it "the middle ground."
"It's fiscally responsible yet it maintains the transparency and public participation," Scharff said.