CHICOPEE — During the City Council meeting on June 4, the group voted to move the regular meetings from 7:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. after City Council President Frank Laflamme presented the idea.

Laflamme talked about the reason for the change and said one of the things that he was working on was the mayor’s briefing versus the City Council meeting.

The mayor’s briefing used to take place at 6:30 p.m. with the City Council meeting taking place at 7:15 p.m. The mayor’s briefing would include Mayor John Vieau discussing multiple proposals with background information.
One of the problems Laflamme and other members found is if the briefing ended early, the council would have to wait until 7:15 p.m. to start and then proceed with their meeting that went over the mayor’s orders again.

The mayor’s briefing will now become a part of the City Council agenda starting on Aug. 6 and will be the first items on the City Council agenda starting at 6:30 p.m.

Once the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., public input would take place first, then the mayor’s briefing followed by the City Council meeting.

This gives the opportunity for the residents to ask the mayor a question as well.

Laflamme added, “The mayor will have the opportunity to highlight some of his proposal ordinances and councilors will have the opportunity to ask questions. Going forward, there will no longer be a special meeting of the mayor’s briefing.”

Laflamme said one of the things that came out of meeting with attorneys was the use of special City Council meetings for the mayor’s briefing.

He added, “We reviewed it and looking at ways to consolidate and make it more accessible for residents and people. Some people in the audience said we shouldn’t always go with the status quo just because it’s there.”

According to Laflamme, another reason for the change was because City Council audience members also got confused with the start time of the meeting and came too early.

He added, “Just two weeks ago, a gentleman was sitting in the audience and said he didn’t know 6:30 [p.m.] is the mayor’s briefing. He said he was here for the City Council meeting. The other problem is people are sitting here at 6:30 [p.m.] and then the mayor gets done at 6:45 [p.m.] or 7 [p.m.] and we have to wait 15, 20 minutes and people say they aren’t going to hang around and I don’t want that to happen.”

Laflamme said in his opinion the best thing to do is combine mayor’s briefing with the City Council meeting with one agenda.

City Council Vice President Robert Zygarowski said him and Laflamme have been speaking out and meet with lawyers to move up the time.

He added, “I support this order wholeheartedly.”

City Clerk Keith Rattell also talked about his opinion on the time change.

He said, “I would repeat everything President Laflamme said. He said everything perfectly. The council’s combining the two meetings into one to make it more efficient and you still get your mayor’s briefing just in one meeting, rather than two. You can still ask your questions. If the mayor moves himself along with the briefing, you can maybe start the remainder of the meeting early.”

While looking at other neighboring cities and most of them do not have mayor’s briefings.

Laflamme said the idea of a special meeting for a mayor’s briefing started a few mayors ago. Residents and City Councilors use to meet in the mayor’s office if they had any questions on certain topics or proposals.

The City Council approved the time change by a vote of 11-1.