The Waterville City Council during a livestream of its Jan. 16 meeting. City of Waterville photo

WATERVILLE — The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to amend a municipal policy to ensure that members of the public can continue to participate remotely in council meetings.

Following a lengthy discussion on the policy during the council’s meeting Jan. 16, resident Nancy Sanford pointed out the city’s current remote participation policy does not guarantee City Council meetings will continue to include an option for members of the public to take part via Zoom.

City Solicitor William A. Lee II said since the Zoom option was instituted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the council’s practice to allow the public to watch a livestream of the meeting or participate via Zoom. The policy, Lee said, does not prohibit people from taking part, and the council has never excluded members of the public from doing so via Zoom.

Sanford, however, said the policy language does not say the practice will continue, and she encouraged that the City Council amend the policy to include language guaranteeing members of the public can continue to participate remotely. Lee said that could be done if councilors seek to do so.

Sanford said she thought it important for people to be able to take part remotely because they might have mobility issues or are single parents who cannot attend meetings. She also said bad weather might make it difficult for people to attend council meetings.

As a taxpayer who attends 95% of the City Council’s meetings, either in person or remotely, Sanford said the council should encourage participation.


The council voted 5-0 on Jan. 16 to table until Feb. 6 voting to consider adopting council rules of order and procedure, a document that includes the remote meeting policy.

City Manager Bryan Kaenrath wrote in a memorandum included in Tuesday’s City Council agenda that the rules of order and procedure are to ensure meetings are conducted in an orderly and efficient manner.

The current language in the section about remote meetings says councilors are expected to be physically present for meetings except when not practicable, such as for an emergency or urgent issue that requires the council to meet remotely, or an illness or temporary absence of a councilor that causes significant difficulty traveling to the meeting.

It says the City Council chair or presiding officer, in consultation with other members, if appropriate and possible, will make a determination about whether remote methods of participation are necessary.

“The public will be provided a meaningful opportunity to attend via remote methods when any member of the council participates via remote methods,” the policy reads. “If public input is allowed or required at the meeting, an effective means of communication between the body and the public will also be provided.”

The amended policy that councilors are to consider Tuesday stipulates that members of the public will be provided a meaningful opportunity to attend via remote methods at all council meetings, and if public input is allowed or required at the meeting, an effective means of communication between the council and public will also be provided.


City Clerk Patti Dubois has suggested that if remote participation is allowed at every meeting, language be included in the policy stipulating what happens if the technology fails. Dubois asked, for instance, whether a meeting must be adjourned if the technology fails.

The proposed amendment recommends that because the technology for remote meetings might fail, members of the public should attend meetings in person, if possible.

“The failure of city technology for remote participation by the public does not affect the validity of the council meeting, nor any actions taken by the council during the meeting,” the proposed amendment reads.

It also stipulates that if technology fails, resulting in lack of a quorum, the meeting shall be adjourned immediately and agenda items that were not discussed would be forwarded to the next regularly scheduled meetings.

A quorum is the minimum number of councilors who must be at a meeting for official business to be conducted legally.

When there is a quorum, failure of technology would not prohibit continuation of the meeting, according to the proposed amendment.

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