Should recently elected council members join Saline City Council during executive sessions?
Not until their term starts in January, according to city attorney Roger Swets.
During public comment, citizen Mary Hess asked if Jim Dell’Orco and Kevin Camero-Sulak, who were elected in the November election, could sit in on council’s executive session Monday night.
Council went into closed session to consider legal opinions as it challenges a Michigan Environment, Great Lakes and Energy permit that will allow the developer of Andelina Farms to build a wastewater treatment system that will discharge effluent into an unnamed tributary of the Saline River within the city limits.
Hess reasoned that since Dell’Orco and Camero-Sulak would soon join the council, the city would benefit if they began their terms with more understanding of the issues.
Mayor Brian Marl asked attorney Swets to address Hess’s question. Swets said it would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act to have the soon-to-be council members to attend the meetings.
“The Open Meetings Act allows for closed sessions to be held with members of council and relevant staff. Newly-elected staff may be sworn in in November, but by city charter, they do not take office until January,” Swets said.
Council went into executive session for the seventh time in 10 meetings. They were in closed session for close to two hours - meaning council has met behind closed doors for about 12 ½ hours since July.