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Batavia City Council weighs going to a committee system

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Aldermen are debating whether to change their current committee structure as a way to help newly elected aldermen get up to speed on issues facing the city.

Six new aldermen will be seated on the City Council in May.

Mayor Jeff Schielke has suggested the City Council go to a committee-of-the-whole system as an experiment because of the large number of new aldermen coming on the 14-member City Council.

The City Council currently has four standing committees comprised of different aldermen.

In a committee-of-the-whole system, the entire City Council would meet as a committee to discuss issues before they are approved at a City Council meeting.

Second Ward Alderman Alan Wolff said he could see benefits to a committee-of-the-whole system.

“I like the idea that everybody is here for all discussions,” Wolff said.

However, other aldermen worried that committee-of-the-whole meetings would not allow for enough discussion on different issues.

“We need to discuss things deeper and longer if we have to,” 1st Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien said.

First Ward Alderman Garran Sparks said a decision on whether to go to a committee-of-the-whole system would not be made until after the six aldermen are seated.

In a memo to the current aldermen and mayor, City Administrator Bill McGrath explained some of the positives and negatives of a committee-of-the-whole system.

He said while there could be longer meetings, all aldermen would be receiving information at the same time from staff and residents.

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