Communication improvements between residents and council

Communication improvements between residents and council

Communication between council members and residents will take a new form starting Monday, Feb. 4.

Council members unanimously supported opening after hours to the public in order to address any concerns residents may have, as well as placing the “Residents Request and Presentations” portion of council meetings back on the agenda — an item that was eliminated from the agenda in 2011.

During their campaign, Phil Garwood, Victoria Napolitano and Greg Newcomer all set out to improve communication between township residents and council members.

“When our new colleagues joined us on council, it was clear that all of us wanted to see our town’s government more responsive to the people who elected us. By holding office hours outside of regular council meetings, we are giving the taxpayers the attention they deserve and offering a way for our citizens to feel comfortable addressing their issues somewhere besides a microphone in a crowded room,” Mayor Stacey Jordan said in an announcement released after the meeting.

Garwood and Newcomer will be the first to meet with residents. A second date will be announced with Deputy Mayor Chris Chiacchio and Napolitano.

Township Manager Scott Carew said no more than two council members are allowed to meet with residents in a personal, private setting. If there were more than two members, it would be considered a public meeting.

In addition to residents meeting privately with council members, Newcomer recommended to place the “Residents Request and Presentations” portion on the agenda, allowing residents to come forward with issues during public meetings.

Council unanimously supported the idea, but Carew suggested limiting the “Request and Presentation” portion, which would be held at the beginning of meetings.
Carew said it would be better to limit the discussion to items that are not present on the agenda.

“It’s a good opportunity to listen to the public,” Garwood said.

The first session of council’s “office hours” will be on Monday, Feb. 4, at the Moorestown Library.

To view a full copy of the statement released by Republican members download the PDF here.