Council members can now phone in to six meetings a year

Jan 15, 2019

Soldotna City Council members will be allowed to participate in twice as many meetings by remote dial-in under a resolution passed Wednesday night.

Sponsored by Councilman Tyson Cox, the measure bumps the number of times a council member can join a meeting via teleconference from three to six.

“And I just thought this would give more opportunity for people to have a voting say in meetings even if they can’t be there”

Before the unanimous vote — one of them via telephone — Councilman Jordan Chilson outlined what other municipalities on the peninsula do.

“Homer allows three like we do, though they allow for one special exception. Kenai is definitely more flexible — they allow four, plus two medical exceptions or city business exception, a combination of those. Seward does not allow teleconferencing. And the borough allows three, like us, and special exceptions as needed.”

Councilman Justin Ruffridge said six teleconference option seemed reasonable to him.

“I actually, truthfully didn’t know there was a limit until I saw this,” he said with a chuckle.

Mayor Nels Anderson weighed in, saying council members can be replaced if they’re not present often enough.

“Six — I agree that that’s quite a bit, and I hope that most people won’t use that. But I also think that when you have responsible people who’ve been elected, and most of them would hopefully try to use them wisely.”

The measure went into effect upon adoption Wednesday night. The counter keeping track of teleconferences resets each Nov. 1.