Council members gather Thursday, March 3 for their first meeting after elections. L-R: Council Clerk Tim Barritt, Councilor Pat Nowak, City Manager Kevin Dorn, Council Chair Helen Riehle, Council Vice-Chair Meaghan Emery, Councilor Tom Chittenden 

City Council Organizes for 2016: Riehle Elected Chair

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Thursday March 10, 2016

In the packed Champlain Room at South Burlington City Hall, councilors and residents gathered for the first post-election council meeting Thursday, March 3. The initial meeting is designed to welcome new and returning councilors, elect officers for the coming year and to make city appointments, set dates and time of regular meetings, and designate the official paper of record as well as the official depository.

Long time council member Helen Riehle was nominated to be the next chair by Meaghan Emery, and the vote was unanimous. Emery was nominated for the vice chair position by Tim Barritt, and Barritt was nominated as clerk by Emery; the council voted unanimously. The official paper of record will remain The Other Paper and the official depository will remain Merchants Bank. Pat Nowak will continue to serve as the council representative to the pension advisory committee.

Riehle thanked her fellow councilors for their confidence in her ability to serve. “I am truly honored and will try my very best to make this next year one of collaboration, consensus building, and effective leadership for South Burlington,” Riehle said.

She welcomed new councilor Tim Barritt and returning councilor Meaghan Emery and thanked Pat Nowak for her service as former chair as well as Chris Shaw for his three years of service on the council.

Reflecting on the results of the elections, Riehle said, “South Burlington is a community of diverse neighborhoods who together spoke loudly and clearly on Tuesday.” She went on to list the values she believes the community stands behind, including quality of life, the character of our neighborhoods, vibrant businesses that co-exist with livable neighborhoods, open space, and investing in our parks and open space infrastructure. In conclusion she said, “We are a community that values and respects our citizens and their visions for the city as well as the requirements businesses need in order to thrive. We are a community that expects citizen participation and their ideas included in decisions regarding their city. We are a community open for business but on terms that serve everyone.”

Riehle proceeded to present a plan to revamp council meetings in a way that will assure commissions, committees, stakeholders, and community members are heard and have the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. The idea is to plan council agendas 60 days in advance, which would give city staff and councilors as well as community members, ample time to schedule their calendars or conduct research on any given policy or topic.

Councilors seemed receptive to this new format and the meeting was ended with audience applause.

“It’s an exciting time and will be quite a ride! I’m glad to be part of this incredible work!” Riehle said.

Council meetings will continue to occur on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month at 6:30 p.m.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent