STAGE 1: SETTING THE AGENDA
In the first stage of the decision-making process council must determine which issues will be considered during the year or term. While some issues will be considered for statutory reasons, many others end up on the agenda because they are either council policies and priorities or issues that individual councillors have put forward for discussion.
GETTING ISSUES ON THE AGENDA
Using the strategic planning processes
The processes for developing the council plan, annual plan and the annual budget are how councils anticipate the future, set directions and priorities, and determine what will and won’t be done.
These processes are one of the main ways that councillors address community needs and their constituents’ concerns. This can require significant negotiation and compromise as councillors strive to get decisions implemented on the issues they are most concerned about.
It’s important for councils to have good processes for these major strategic exercises. These processes should allow for early input from councillors and provide the time and space for the necessary discussions and negotiations to take place.
Using other processes
From time to time, issues do arise outside of the strategic planning processes. While in some cases, it’s quite reasonable to defer these to the following year, there does need to be a way for councillors to get their issues considered outside of the planning timeframe. The mayor and the CEO can play an important role in this regard by providing leadership and advice to councillors. Setting up regular meetings with councillors can be one way to manage this.
Frustration at not being able to get their issues considered can be a key reason for councillor’s difficult behaviour or misuse of meeting procedures. Councillors, for example, should not use council meeting agenda items, such as urgent business or notices of motion, to prove to their constituents that they are addressing issues.