Council considering use of consent agenda

To make meetings more efficient
Thu, 05/09/2019 - 5:45pm
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The New Shoreham Town Council is exploring ways to make its meetings more efficient, which could include use of a consent agenda to better utilize the time of the councilors and the public. The topic was discussed at the Town Council’s May 7 meeting, when council members were considering possible future agenda items.

According to boardeffect.com, a consent agenda is the grouping of routine business matters, such as meeting minutes, financials, program or committee reports, and correspondence, into one agenda item that can be approved with one action, rather than filing separate motions for each item separately. “A consent agenda moves routine items along quickly so that the board has time for discussing more important issues.”

“The types of items that appear on a consent agenda are non-controversial items or routine items that are discussed at every meeting. They can also be items that have been previously discussed at length where there is group consensus.” 

Town Manager Ed Roberge explained the practice of a consent agenda, after Councilor Martha Ball referenced a lengthy April 24 council meeting when there were 18 items listed on the agenda. Ball suggested that the council discuss the subject at a work session.

“A number of cities and towns structure their agendas to include items on consent,” said Roberge, noting that routine items, such as correspondence, board and commission appointments, etc. “could be clustered together in a consent agenda.”

Roberge said the council could remove, or “pull an agenda item,” or move an item to the regular agenda at its discretion. “It’s a tool that a number of cities and towns utilize.”

Resident Bill McCombe asked the council if “a consent agenda was for formality type things that don’t typically require a vote.”

First Warden Ken Lacoste said that it was for routine business matters, “such as awarding a contract, things like that. The information is presented in the council’s packet, for the council to review prior to the meeting, but it’s not listed as its own agenda item.” The item is voted on as one of the items listed under the consent agenda heading.

Lacoste said that some of the council’s agendas are lengthy, such as the April 24 agenda, because certain items “pop up” that need to be voted on in a timely manner. 

Hotel tax resolution

In other news, with Councilor Chris Willi absent, the council unanimously approved (4-0) a resolution requesting that the hotel tax distribution formula under current legislation for hosting platforms, such as Airbnb, be revised. Under the current legislation, tourism districts are excluded from receiving that portion of the hotel tax, while the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation receives 75 percent, and the Town of New Shoreham receives 25 percent. The resolution asks that the tax be redistributed as follows: 45 percent for the state’s regional tourism districts, 25 percent to RICC, 25 percent to the town, and five percent to the Greater Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The council also unanimously approved the Drapers’ request to expand their liquor license service area to address larger events that impact their Oar restaurant property in New Harbor. The council unanimously approved a special event license for the Early Learning Center for its annual pasta dinner fundraiser at the Narragansett Inn on Tuesday, May 14. The council also unanimously approved a special temporary permit for the Storm Trysail Club to permit the use of portable office trailers at the Narragansett Inn during Race Week, which is June 23 to June 28.

Hope Roosa honored

The council and Police Chief Vin Carlone honored resident Hope Roosa, who rescued her father, David Roosa, after they fell through the ice of a pond while ice-skating over the winter. During a round of applause, Lacoste presented Hope with a bouquet of flowers after Carlone stood before the council and recounted her act of heroism.

“On Jan. 15 of this year, an incident occurred at John E.’s Tug Hole on Pilot Hill Road, where a father and daughter were ice-skating,” read Carlone from a prepared text. “They broke through the ice, and spent a protracted number of minutes in the frigid water in jeopardy of their lives. But since Hope had viewed an ice-skating video she was able to stay calm. In emergencies like this people often times fail to use their training. She used her training, and the skills she learned, to save herself, and her father. Otherwise, they were all alone, and nobody was going to save them. So we would like to commend her for what she did that day.”

“She is an example of the young people I find on Block Island, who seem to be two cuts above many of the young people elsewhere,” noted the Chief. “I think they’re raised right. Hope started her own business on the island when she was 18 years old. It became a successful business right away. I think the school does a great job. It’s the one thing, in my 15 years, that I can say absolutely is working very well — the raising of the kids on our island. Thank you, Hope, for doing what you did.”

An article about the experience written by David Roosa that was published in The Block Island Times can be found here: https://bit.ly/2VSHrmm.

The next Town Council meeting is Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m.