Sioux Falls City Council considers public testimony time limit - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sioux Falls City Council considers public testimony time limit

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The Sioux Falls City Council is debating whether or not to put a time limit on public testimony during meetings. The proposal aims to keep the meetings consistent, but opponents say it will prevent voices from being heard.

Time is a precious commodity, one the city council is trying to keep from the public... or are they? By putting in a shot clock, Mayor Mike Huether says the council simply hopes to stay on topic.

"I think that for the most part they're trying to find that balance between getting the people's input as well as getting things ultimately done and having a productive and effective meeting." said Huether.

Five minutes sounds like a short window but when it comes to debate, five minutes is more than enough.

Travis Dahle teaches debate at Washington High School. While there are different forms of debate, Travis teaches his students to make their point in sometimes less than three minutes. He thinks having a time limit could actually help focus the council discussion.

"If you limit it, it forces people to choose okay what am I going to say? How am I going to say it? Has this been repeated before? If it has, you can reference it but you don't have to go on and on about the same thing that somebody else just spent five minutes covering." Said Dahle.

But Travis says some voices could be overlooked if the issue is big enough. in past council meetings, time has only been an problem with hot-button topics like new Walmart proposals, the texting and driving ban, and of course Snow gates.

As the head of these meetings, Mayor Huether decides how much time each side gets at the podium but it's the councilors who can grant more time if needed. If the issue is big enough the mayor has no problem going to overtime.

"It's not just the city council meeting where the council or this mayor is engaging the public it's happening in a major way before and after that meeting." Said Huether.

But for now, if you do speak up at the council meetings, you don't have to beat the clock. The time limit is still just a proposal and the council will continue the discussion at their next work session.

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