Missouri City City Council is considering limiting the amount of time allowed for public speakers who wish to address items not part of the agenda, saying it’ll improve meeting efficiency.

What residents need to know

At the June 17 meeting, City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that proposed changing the allotted time for nonagenda-related public comments to 1 1/2 minutes rather than the previously allotted three-minute time limit.

State law requires council to provide three minutes for each resident who would like to speak on items listed on the agenda, although the city is not required to allow speakers on other items, City Attorney E. Joyce Iyamu said.

Beyond the time change, the ordinance would also allow City Council or the city manager to respond to comments related to nonagenda items, according to agenda documents.

What they’re saying

Although city staff first proposed one-minute comments on nonagenda items, council member Anthony Maroulis said he would like to see at least 1 1/2 minutes, as speakers are required to state their name and address for the record, which can take some time.

“We’re trying to find a middle ground; we want to make sure we hear the public. I know this council is very accessible, extremely accessible to the public,” he said.

Maroulis cited a speaker from the special meeting who came forward to discuss an unresolved code enforcement issue as an example for why additional nonagenda-related time is needed.

Other council members also expressed support for 1 1/2 minutes, but council member Jeffrey Boney and Mayor Robin Elackatt argued one minute would be plenty of time for nonagenda items.

In case you missed it

As of May 7, Sugar Land City Council also began more strictly enforcing its public comment policy, which states speakers must only speak on agenda-related items, Mayor Joe Zimmerman said in a statement at the meeting.

Residents who participate in Sugar Land’s public comment will be subject to consequences should they refuse to stay on topic regarding discussing agenda items, including removal from the meeting or potential arrest for disrupting a public meeting.

Zimmerman also reminded audience members that clapping, chanting or heckling is not allowed.

What else?

The proposed Missouri City ordinance also looks to allow the approval of a second reading of ordinances at special meetings, according to agenda documents. All ordinances are required to be approved only at regular City Council meetings.

Next steps

The ordinance will need to be approved upon second reading at the next City Council meeting July 1 to go into effect.