NORTH OGDEN -- The city council is trying to decide its policies on email use.
With three new council members taking their seats this month and one council member who was appointed in October, the council is reviewing its policies and procedures.
Wade Bigler, now the senior council member with two years' experience, brought up several points of procedure at a recent council meeting.
The previous council had suggested that email discussion among the council, mayor and staff should be kept to a minimum, so the procedures were set to be changed to state that. The wording the previous council had come up with was set to be voted on Jan. 24.
The new wording stated, "Council members should save discussion on matters that will appear on the council agenda for open public meetings and avoid group discussions via email that could violate the spirit, if not the letter, of open meetings law."
Bigler took issue with the suggestion. He would like the council to do just the opposite and use email more frequently.
"That way, we are not having to discuss everything here," Bigler said referring to the lengthy city council meeting in progress.
Councilman Dave Hulme disagreed.
"A discussion via email should not be held in lieu of public discussion," he said.
He doesn't want residents to have to file Government Records Access and Management Act requests for every discussion held via email.
Even though the council is allowed to have such discussions, it doesn't mean they should, he said.
City Attorney Dave Carlson said the council isn't violating the open meetings law by having a lot of email discussion, but it can be a fine line if decisions are being made ahead of time and then not discussed at all in the city council meetings.
"But that can be very subjective," Bigler pointed out several times.
"We would be going over details, and I don't think the public even cares," said Councilman Kent Bailey.
Hulme agreed that may be true but said email should never take the place of a meeting.
The council did not officially vote on any change to the email policy.
The council plans to vote on all changes to the council policies and procedures at a meeting later this month.