AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Government transparency has been a focal point for this city council since the last council election.
To try to engage with more citizens, a new public forum structure was put in place at Tuesday evening's council meeting, and a new city website will make its debut this summer.
Public comments at council meetings were previously held after all other agenda items were discussed, and according to state law, the council could never discuss what comments were given to them.
They could only answer questions with statements of fact.
Now, public forum is the first thing to happen.
"We put it at the beginning so people could come and let us know if they have an issue or they want to talk to us, and then we can address that," said council member Mark Nair. "Or if they want to talk about a specific agenda item they can talk about it, and then we can add that to the deliberations. Because to this point it's always been after the fact, so we've already voted."
Anyone who wants to comment must sign up with the city secretary before the council meeting begins.
The goal involves efficiency - limit public comment to 10 people in a 30 minute time span.
Two council members will also now stay after the meeting to talk one on one with people who want to discuss - not just present - their comments.
City leaders also hope people can learn and engage more through a redesigned city website.
Many people have complained the current one is not user friendly.
"If I can't find what I'm looking for in three seconds or in three clicks, I'll move on," said Richard Gagnon, Chief Information Officer for the city. "So we want, whether you're 18 or 82, it should take about three seconds to get to what you're looking for on the city website."
In late April or early May, citizens will be asked to try out the new design and see if it's easier to access things like water bills.
"Everything will be clear," said Nair. "People can get the information they need. It will be understandable, not obscure. It will be transparent, not opaque. I just can't wait until we get it going."