PITTSFIELD -- The "City Council Show" will appear on local cable television a bit earlier from now on, after a 7 p.m. start time was approved for both the full council and subcommittee meetings.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli began the debate by proposing a 6:30 p.m. start. He said that over the past two years he's heard from many constituents who object to meetings that start at 7:30 p.m. and sometimes go past 10 p.m. and occasionally to 11 p.m.
Simonelli said starting an hour earlier "certainly gives people time to get here," adding that a number of other city boards have set meetings an hour or more earlier than the council meetings. He acknowledged an earlier council start was defeated several years ago but said he believed it worth debating again.
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi said he agreed with the idea of meeting earlier, but he and others on the council also attend group or organization meetings in their wards, often on a Tuesday night. However, he said he would support a 7 p.m. start.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell expressed a similar sentiment as he also has meetings he attends that are scheduled prior to council meetings.
Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop said he believes a significant number of residents also get out of work late and might prefer a later start. He also noted that most meetings do, in fact, last two hours or less, meaning they end by 9:30 p.m.
Councilor at large Kathleen Amuso said residents waiting for their issue to come up on the council agenda sometimes have to wait too long at meetings. She said she would support a 6:30 p.m. start.
The vote was 9-2 for a change to 7 p.m., with councilors Lothrop and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol opposed.
Amuso also proposed allowing individual council committees to set their own start time, but several councilors said they fear the public - as well as city officials - could become confused over start times. The council then voted unanimously to support a 7 p.m. start time for all committees.
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