Myrtle Beach City Council is considering condensing their workshop and regular meeting into one — a choice that will be made on a trial basis with the intention of making more time to discuss downtown redevelopment.
Right now, a workshop begins at 9 a.m. and the regular meeting begins at 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. The changes will combine the two, with the regular meeting starting at 9 a.m.
“One of the most significant items this city council will be dealing with is the future of the downtown,” City Manager John Pedersen said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “That’s going to take some time here, and the idea is we would find the time by doing this pilot program.”
The trial basis comes after the city hired downtown consultants to help with redevelopment. While a final presentation will not be made until February, the consultants are coming to the next three meetings — Oct. 23, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 — to work with council members.
In June, city officials hired Benchmark Consultants for $88,000. The group, which has done similar studies in Wilmington, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina and Long Beach, California, is meeting with downtown stakeholders and city officials to decide a plan for moving forward with revitalization.
But the change in meeting times is a pilot program to see if council members want to permanently change the start time of the regular meeting.
During the meeting, council members Mike Chestnut, Phil Render and Mike Lowder expressed concerns over the change in time, including the limited amount of time council members already have to discuss items and the importance to have time to consider different ideas between a discussion and the vote.
But Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune is working to combine the meetings — an idea she hopes will draw more people to hear the discussion that takes place.
“I think a component of this is that not everyone watches the workshop and the meeting so this will possibly give people more opportunities to see how things are done and hear the discussion that takes place,” Bethune said at the meeting.
As the motion is written, meetings will resume with a 9 a.m. workshop and 2 p.m. meeting at the first meeting of 2019 unless members vote to change the times.
This isn’t the first change made by city council. In March officials set a time limit for three minutes during public comment. The ordinance allows city residents, business owners and property owners to speak before non-residents.