Lead Story Local News West Edition

Budget cuts spur council meeting time change

INGLEWOOD — Citing city budget cuts, a proposed employee reduction plan and workforce efficiency, the city has moved its weekly council meetings to an afternoon time slot.

The meeting time change ordinance to move all open weekly council meetings to 2 p.m. was introduced Nov. 3. Historically, City Council meetings had been held at 7 p.m. most Tuesdays.

Mayor James Butts favored the move, saying city staff can make better use of their time and attend council meetings during normal working hours.

“Day meetings are more efficient in maximizing the ability of staff to continue to do meaningful work while meetings are in progress,” Butts said. “The reality is that meetings, day or night, have roughly the same [people in] attendance. … The average attendance of council meetings, day or night, amounts to less than 8/100ths of 1 percent of registered voters in the city.”

Butts defended the change, saying many cities and counties including the city of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles conduct day meetings.

Resident Paula Liaga attended a recent council meeting with letters from a few residents opposed to eliminating night meetings.

“It was hard for me to get here,” Liaga said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

But Willie Agee, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, didn’t see any problem with the change.

“I’ve been here for 18 years,” he said. “I’ve been at meetings that went until one in the morning and nothing got done.”

City Councilman Eloy Morales, the longest sitting council member, agreed.

“Ninety percent of the meetings were nighttime meetings,” he said “We were going to two in the morning and very little was being done.”

Butts said the new schedule made things easier on city employees who might have to give reports at council meetings.

“All the staff needed for reports are here for their regular shifts working if and until needed as opposed to sitting after hours in a conference room from which they are seldom called,” he said.

“The budget cuts which required layoffs of sitting employees were enacted at the same council meeting when the meeting time change was enacted.”

Unlike many smaller cities in which City Council positions are considered part-time jobs and the members have day jobs to support their families, Butts said Inglewood City Council members are full-time city employees who are not eligible for overtime.

“Council meetings are a very small part of their councilmanic duties, as far as time commitment,” Butts said. “No members of the council have hourly based outside employment that would require an hourly schedule commitment,”

Prior to the change, meetings were held at 2 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month and at 7 p.m. on the second, fourth and fifth Tuesday.