After getting sworn in May 4, Oak Park’s new village board met last week to freshen up its rules and procedures for the future. The outcome? Residents will likely have a little less time to speak at some meetings and so will the village president.

Individuals can no longer speak on every single agenda item at meetings. That number will be capped at four: three comments on specific items, as well as a go at the 30-minute non-agenda public comment portion of each regular board meeting.

However, the board will start allowing the public to speak at bi-weekly “special meetings,” which typically don’t include action by the board and are scheduled to chew over complicated issues.

When trustees want to comment on certain items in the future, the board will now move around the table in order each time to see if each member has something to say. In the past, Village President David Pope called on each trustee who raised his or her hand.

Some trustees suggested that Pope be required to speak last on each item, to listen to the discussion and serve as facilitator. But for now, Pope will be part of the round-robin approach, which spins around the table and starts with a different board member each time.

Trustees will also be asked to limit their general comments about items to three minutes, which doesn’t include any questions or dialogue. Presentations to the board also must be kept to 10 minutes.

The board plans to establish two new subcommittees to have members work out more complicated issues and report back to the board. The new two-member committees will discuss legislative affairs and re-inventing local government. Those join three already established subcommittees on finance, personnel and economic development.

Trustee Jon Hale said the board could be more efficient.

“The last two years, I think we’ve done OK, but we could do better,” he said.

-Marty Stempniak

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