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Washington Councilman's Motion Sparks Debate
Updated May 5, 2013 1:06 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(WASHINGTON) - The Washington City Council voted to no longer have Clerk-Treasurer Karen Brown read the city's bank statements and claims aloud at each meeting

Andrea McCann of Times-Hearld reports that after the statements were read, Councilman Jim Greene asked why it was necessary since the council members see the figures beforehand and it uses up meeting time. He made a motion to eliminate the practice, and Councilman Blake Chambers seconded the motion.

There was some debate about the efficiency and necessity of reading the information at the public meetings, and Greene wanted the material to still be included in the minutes of the meeting. It was explained that anything not presented at the meeting would not be in the minutes. However, Mayor Joe Wellman said the information is always available to the public at the clerk-treasurer's office if anyone wants to see it.

"My personal preference would be to read them for the public's information," Wellman said.

Since many council meeting attendees are city department heads, they were asked if they thought the claims and bank statements should be read at the public meetings. Despite several nods of affirmation and the mayor's disinclination, the council voted to end the practice, with Councilman Joe Fleck the only one in opposition. Council President Allen Brown and Councilman Mike Singleton were not in attendance.

The debate was initiated again later in the meeting when each council member had an opportunity to bring up issues and concerns. Councilman Chambers asked members of the media their opinion, and radio newsman Don Spillman pointed out, among other things, that several of the politicians had run on platforms of more open government. Another member of the media mentioned that, although the figures generally aren't used per se, if there's a red flag or discussion about any of them, that is included in the news report.

It was also pointed out that several department heads had nodded affirmative when asked if they like to hear the statements and claims read. Electric Department Head Randy Emmons said although he signs off on his department's financial information, he likes to hear what the other departments are doing. Street Commissioner Ernie Evans concurred, adding that he also listens to be sure the numbers for his department are accurate.

Councilman Eric Bassler said he's not one for doing something just because it's been done in the past and asked if someone could look into what standard operating procedure is expected of a city council. Wellman said the matter could certainly be researched.

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