In the future, Richardson City Council members will be allowed to remotely join meetings provided sufficient reasoning is given for virtual participation.

Director of Communications Greg Sowell provided an overview of potential policies during both the Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 meetings, with council deciding to proceed with a remote meeting policy during the Oct. 23 meeting. To ensure compliance with state open meeting requirements, city officials are working on obtaining the necessary infrastructure, such as TVs for the council chamber and its cable broadcast of meetings, Sowell said.

The overview

The policy would allow council members to participate remotely up to four times per two-year term, Sowell said, provided sufficient reasoning for joining via videoconference call. Up to two council members would be allowed to participate remotely each meeting while the mayor or presiding officer and a quorum of the council must be present in the council chamber.

To meet state requirements, a live feed of any virtual participants with clear audio and video must be viewable both by the public in attendance and other council members. Virtual participants who lose a connection with the meeting will be considered absent for any portion of the meeting missed, Sowell said.

On meeting agendas, staff will have to include language indicating remote participation. To assist with such notification, the policy requests council members provide notification of virtual attendance ahead of the 72-hour posting deadline. Reasons council members can attend remotely include illness, hospitalization, employment-related conflicts and planned travel.

Once the necessary equipment arrives that will allow for a live feed within the council chambers, Sowell said staff will notify the council. The remote meeting policy will only apply for council, and not other city boards and commissions.