Removing a law that protects residents is one of the first things Mayor Verzal has put on the agenda for 2022. The ordinance is designed to prevent new laws from being created quickly and haphazardly.
On the agenda for the first city council meeting of the year, is a proposed ordinance that does two separate things. First, it removes the three reading processes required for ordinances. Second, it addresses how items are added to the agenda by the Mayor and City Clerk.
Currently, when a law is to be considered by the City Council, the Mayor has to read the name of the law at the first meeting, at the next meeting there is typically a public hearing, then at the third meeting council members can discuss the ordinance and vote. As a result residents and council members have 35 to 42 days to research the ordinance and the impacts on the city. An ideal use of this time is for residents to reach out to council members to make sure their opinion is heard.
In case of an emergency, the City Council can waive the three reading processes at either the first or second step. When the process is waived the city is still required to hold a public hearing, which does require a 72 hour notice to be published with a newspaper. The Mayor has opted to not share such notices with the Deer Park Gazette.
In the past, Mayor Tim Verzal has waived the 3 reading processes to:
- Increase property taxes twice.
- Increase the cost of law enforcement paid to the Spokane County Sheriff.
- Ban selling and the use of fireworks.
City Council Agenda
The second part of the ordinance regards the city council agenda. While it does add details to the municipal code, not much really changes. If something needs to be on the agenda for a city council meeting, it must be submitted in writing by 9:30 AM on the Friday before the meeting.
Following Rules, Not Required
The rules are optional. If the Mayor or City Council does not follow the rules they can still do whatever they want. The laws created without notice, without a three reading process, will still be legally binding.