Kennewick City Council plans new meeting times

The Kennewick City Council will have new meeting times with the new year, and an expanded policy for allowing public comments at council meetings.

Mayor Steve Young, looking to make better use of the weekly meetings, persuaded the council to switch from weekly back-to-back workshop and council meetings to having them separately every other Tuesday.

The council will meet a half hour earlier at 7 p.m. at city hall on the first and third Tuesdays.

Council workshops will be on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.

The council will continue to have regular meetings of the budget, infrastructure and economic development committees, with no more than three council members attending.

And the new public commenting rules starting in January will allow anyone who wants to comment on an item on the agenda to do so whether or not it is part of a scheduled public hearing.

Currently comments are allowed only at public hearings or, on topics not listed on the agenda, at the time set aside for visitors.

The mayor or other presiding officer now will be able to decide when the public comments can be allowed during the meeting and the time limit for comments.

People who disrupt, are disorderly or insolent at council meetings may be removed by police. People found guilty of criminal contempt could pay up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.

Also this week, the council congratulated longtime employee Russ Burtner, who is retiring after nearly 24 years with the city. He was director of Parks and Recreation and most recently the city's director of municipal services.