Austin Mayor, Council propose changes to meetings at City Hall

The first item of business for the new city council is to change the way Austin City Hall does business.

Thursday Mayor Steve Adler joined the council to announce a proposal that would change the way city council is structured and make it easier for the public to weigh in.

Under the proposal public hearings would shift to committee meetings making regular meetings more efficient according to Adler.

"This is Austin and we get to try new things," said Adler. "It creates more meaningful public engagement earlier in the legislative process and before decisions are made," he added.

"Another idea is to have more frequent council meetings and to increase participation," said Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo. Tovo represents District 9 and is the only veteran council member. She supports the changes and sees the benefits.

"I think it's exciting and an indication of this council and the consensus we can build around really important issues," said Tovo.

Long meetings lasting late into the night and even early in the morning could be a thing of the past.

"We are rock solidly committed to the partnership with the council in regards to this committee structure and a new way forward," said City Manager Marc Ott.

As the new leaders continue to learn about how Austin works during council orientation they are committed to making it easier for people to get involved.

"We plan to practice what we preach and what we've proposed today is far from final," said Greg Casar, District 4.

"It's going to be a work in progress and we'll be evaluating the success of the new structure going forward," said Ellen Troxclair, District 8.

"The only way we're going to get the community will to do big things is to see Austin from each other's perspective and that's where our best ideas will come from," said Adler.

Adler says a public hearing on the proposed changes will be scheduled for later in January. The first council meeting is January 29th.