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Vero Council shifts meetings to mornings

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of June 1, 2023)

Starting in August, the Vero Beach City Council will conduct its regular meetings at 9:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.

The council has been meeting mostly on the first and third Tuesdays, offering an assortment of starting times – 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – in an effort to accommodate citizens who are unable to attend the usual morning sessions.

However, council members recently voted unanimously to approve the change of weeks, primarily to avoid conflicts with County Commission meetings, which are held at 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month.

Mayor John Cotugno said the schedule change would allow council members and other city staffers to attend county commission meetings at which issues concerning Vero Beach were to be addressed.

Likewise, commissioners and other county staffers would have the opportunity to attend Vero City Council meetings when necessary. The commission will continue to meet twice per month through the end of the year, except in October, when it is scheduled to meet on the 3rd, 17th, and 31st.

“It really doesn’t impact what we do as a council,” Cotugno said, “but it does eliminate any potential scheduling conflicts for us, and any citizens who might want to attend both meetings can do so.”

The City Council also altered its July schedule.

There will be no meeting on July 4. Instead, council members will hold their regular meeting on July 11. The council is scheduled to conduct budget hearings on July 17-18, so the regular meeting on July 25 has been eliminated.

The new meeting schedule begins on Aug. 8.

As for the newly adopted 9:30 a.m. starting time, City Manager Monte Falls said the council’s recent experiment with afternoon meetings resulted in no significant increase in attendance.

“We thought we might see bigger crowds if we moved meetings to the afternoon, especially later in the day, when people might be able to leave work early to get there,” Falls said.

“What we found was that it didn’t matter what time we started the meetings,” he added. “Attendance depends on what’s on the agenda and what issues the council will be discussing at a particular meeting. Really, it’s been that way for years.”