|Director Bass requested an agenda item to revise the Board policy regarding inclusion of items on the agenda when materials for the agenda item are not complete at the time of the agenda posting. The request was made in response to an item on the September 28 agenda. The Board does not have a written policy regarding these matters at this time. Staff makes every effort to ensure that meeting materials are available to the Board at the time the agenda is posted. In accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, Board agendas are required to be posted at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. While meeting materials are generally subject to release to the public through the Texas Open Records Act, there is no legal requirement to post meeting materials for the public in either the Open Meetings Act or the Open Records Act. However, in the interest of openness and an informed public, the Township regularly posts the vast majority of its meeting materials on the Township website at the same time the meeting agenda is posted. From time to time, the materials are not provided to the Board or to the public in advance of the meeting due to timing, pending information or the draft nature of the materials at the time of agenda posting. To avoid confusion, if information in the materials may be subject to change or is not in a finalized format, it may be withheld at the time of the agenda posting, but would be available in final form to any member of the public once presented to the Board.
There were two items on the September 28 agenda for which materials were not available or posted at the time of the agenda posting. Both agenda items noted at the time of the agenda posting that materials would be available at the meeting. One item was in regard to trolley service, the other was a Director request regarding the Township’s 2011 governance/incorporation study financial analysis. Both agenda items were requested just prior to agenda posting, which did not allow staff appropriate time to compile and finalize Board materials prior to posting.
The trolley service item was initially presented to the Board at the September 22 meeting, at which time the Board requested additional information prior acting upon the item. To ensure an appropriate amount of time for implementation of any service changes prior to the holiday season, this matter was placed on the September 28 agenda and staff worked to compile the requested information in time for the meeting, but it was not ready at the time of the agenda posting. If the information had not be available at the time of the meeting itself, staff simply would have recommended that the Board table or defer the matter until such information became available; however, since the information was provided at the meeting, the Board opted to act on this item.
On September 23, the day of the agenda posting for the September 28 meeting, Township staff received a request from Director Bunch to place the following item on the September 28 agenda: “Receive, consider and act upon a presentation regarding the 2011 PSA / EPS Woodlands Incorporation Study / Financial Model and Results”. This request was in accordance with existing informal Board policy that allows any Director to place an item on the next agenda.
In September, 2016, staff received a request to update certain financial information that was provided in a 2011 study done by EPS regarding incorporation. Staff responded to the Board request and developed estimates and support materials and provided this information to Township Directors. The staff analysis was not developed as a public presentation but was developed specifically to address a Board question and provide necessary support documents.
After receiving the request that this matter be placed as a presentation on the September 28 agenda, staff had five days to develop the public presentation materials in order to give context and background on the matter to the public. In this particular case, the staff presentation materials were finalized on the afternoon of September 28.
The presentation materials were necessary to assure that when this controversial matter was presented, that everyone (including the Board, media and public) received a full explanation of the way the information was developed, the assumptions used and the cautions regarding the reliance on the data. This simply could not be done with the agenda request being received on the same day that the September 28 agenda was required to be posted.
The current concern raised regarding distribution of Board materials may be on the basis that some materials were provided to the Board in the afternoon of September 23, but were not posted with the agenda materials for the September 28 agenda regarding the 2011-2012 financial analysis. While certain background materials were provided directly to the Board, these were not ready to be released as part of the agenda packet. At the time of agenda posting, staff was still developing the narrative for the presentation, and if released early, this information may have been used without a full explanation of the way the information was developed, the assumptions used and the cautions regarding the reliance on the data, and as such may have been misinterpreted as a full review of these important financial matters, rather than a review only of changing circumstances and a recommendation to contract for a new thorough and independent analysis. Staff was prepared to present the complete detail on this matter at the September 28 meeting; however, the Board opted to table this agenda item.
Staff has worked diligently to accommodate requests received from Directors in a very timely manner. If there is concern about assuring all agenda materials are included in the published Board packet, I would recommend that the Board consider an amendment to the formal Board policy to allow staff more time to address the development of materials for requested agenda items. This proposed change would require that all Director requested board agenda items be received by staff two weeks in advance of the next regular meeting. This additional time would allow for support and presentation materials to be developed and included in the published Board packet.