With the results now in for the commissioner (Cunningham/Pomeroy) and mayoral races (Mehl) in Bozeman, perhaps the commissioners will feel better about either extending their timeline for this process or voting by the 27th as discussed.
City Commission tables vote on strategic plan
By Katheryn Houghton Chronicle Staff Writer Nov 6, 2017
Bozeman’s elected officials hit a wall voting on the city’s first strategic plan and again fell into the question of whether there’s enough time to finish the major projects they’ve started before new leaders join the stage.
During its regular Monday night meeting, the Bozeman City Commission tabled a vote on the plan that outlines the city’s priorities over the next five years, moving the decision to Nov. 27.
The meeting took place the night before municipal elections and with five weeks left in the current governing body’s term.
Mayor Carson Taylor said if the draft document falls to the next commission, he fears it will be years before it becomes a reality.
“We’ve been working on two things for two years, and we don’t know how the election is going to turn out, but we do know there will be at least one new commissioner, it would be unwise to have any new commissioner … start from scratch from where we are here,” Taylor said.
For nearly two years, city staff and the commission have worked on the draft plan along with the city’s development codes as Bozeman continues to respond to being the fastest-growing city in Montana.
Both documents will provide a type of framework for Bozeman. The strategic plan aims to help guide future commission projects and budget priorities. The development codes will layout the rules for building in Bozeman.
The vote to table the strategic plan Monday was unanimous, with Deputy Mayor Cyndy Andrus absent from the meeting.
As it became clear partway through the meeting the body wasn’t ready to approve the plan, Commissioner Chris Mehl made a motion to approve the document.
“I don’t see how we’re going to finish this tonight,” he said, but added the motion was a way to further discuss the document.
Mehl waited for the required second from a fellow commissioner, which didn’t come from either Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy or Commissioner Jeff Krauss. Mayor Carson Taylor passed the gavel to Pomeroy in order to legally second the motion so it could be discussed.
“I have, in my seven and three quarters years on the commission, never seen a manipulation of the commission quite like this,” he said, referring to Pomeroy and Krauss’ lack of a second.
He said had he known that was the direction the commissioners would take, he would have waited for a full commission to be present before taking a vote.
“Because that frankly gets us over one way or the other of what I would consider to be fundamentally obstruction in moving forward,” Taylor said.
Krauss said he felt like Taylor was moving too fast on a document that’s designed to guide the city.
“I believe that we’re trying to accelerate this so that you can get it done before you leave office, and you have said that,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the way good law is made.”
Krauss said he didn’t second the motion because he wanted to have more of a discussion, as opposed to “playing a game.” He said he saw new language within the document and he wanted the commission to have the chance to talk about the changes with each other and city staff.
He said when Andrus returns, the commission may be able to pass the plan, “and you could do it quickly.”
“But I don’t believe that’s what a strategic plan deserves. I don’t believe that’s what Bozeman deserves, and I don’t believe the reasons for doing it are all that admirable either,” Krauss said.
Pomeroy pointed to the fact that several public comments Monday night were people asking the commission to set aside more time for Bozeman residents to review the plan.
“I understand you want to finish this, but people need some more time,” Pomeroy said.
Mehl said he was frustrated his motion went without a second from Pomeroy or Krauss.
“We’ve always seconded other people’s motions … and so that’s a bit of a surprise to me, frankly,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for 18 months and it’s time for us to debate it.”
Unless another meeting is added to the agenda, Dec. 18 marks the current Bozeman City Commission’s last meeting before new electees start in January.
Taylor said he still believes the commission should try to complete the projects they’ve started, but if that proves impossible he would accept that as well.
“I would never want to do an incomplete, or a bad job just so it could get done, but I am concerned about the efficiency of a new commission,” Taylor said.