Petersburg borough assembly chambers (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg’s assembly this week agreed to vote on deviating from their published agenda in the future.

Meetings this past pandemic year have only allowed public testimony by phone. In a few instances dropped calls, bad connections or even late callers have meant public testimony during different times in a meeting. Normally that public input and reports from other guests are only at the start of a meeting. The assembly has been flexible about letting people speak who want to although there’s been some disagreement about that.

The generally accepted rules for meetings allows for this accommodation with a simple motion and vote.

“Robert’s Rules is pretty clear, in terms of any deviation from standard procedure, whether that be letting people testify in the middle of a meeting, or really anything else, switching things around,” said assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor. “It’s a simple motion to suspend the rules to do blank. As anyone can read in Robert’s Rules you can’t suspend the rules for certain things, it’s pretty clear what’s allowed and what’s not. But the idea of allowing someone to speak at a different time of the meeting would fall under that.”

Other assembly members agreed to take that approach in the future, by taking a vote to go off schedule. Meanwhile, borough manager Steve Giesbrecht reported on the status of sound upgrades for the borough assembly chambers. He said that equipment was delayed by the pandemic and that impacted work by the contractors.

“They had to hold off scheduling coming here until all the equipment showed up,” Giesbrecht said. “We got an update about a week, two weeks ago I guess. They’ll be here the last week in January to install everything and go through the test process. So hopefully that still holds true.”

The borough is paying just under 40,000 dollars of coronavirus emergency money to an Anchorage company for a new multi-media system in the assembly chambers. It’s hoped the upgrades will make it easier for the public to hear and be heard at meetings.