Due to a recent months-long backlog in the production of meeting minutes, Haines Borough staff is proposing the clerk be required to produce only a stripped-down account of meetings.

Interim clerk Michelle Webb is recommending the clerk be required to take “action-only” minutes, which do not document discussions leading up to decisions or motions.

Action minutes are a record only of decisions reached and actions taken.

The assembly introduced an ordinance last week that would make the change. It’s scheduled for a first public hearing Tuesday.

In a memo to the assembly, Webb said requiring the clerk to capture a summary of speaker’s comments is inherently subjective and forces the clerk to choose his or her “words, thoughts and comments” carefully.

“This is a very difficult and time-consuming task which can sometimes lead to unintended misrepresentation of a speaker,” Webb said.

Summarized minutes also open up the borough to the possibility of litigation, Webb said.

“There has been at least one case when the summarized written statement taken down in minutes has been used against the borough later in legal cases. It is difficult to predict how a summarized statement will be read at a future date, when the connotation of the statement and larger context of the conversation is no longer fresh,” she said.

Interim manager Julie Cozzi said discussion minutes were used by the prosecuting attorney in the Williamson drowning case, which the borough eventually won.

  Cozzi said she would support the assembly’s decision to change to action minutes, but wouldn’t be disappointed if the procedure stays the same. “It’s not something I’m going to the mat for. It would be really cool. It’s really all that is required under Robert’s Rules,” which establishes assembly meeting procedures, Cozzi said.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said she would be okay with the change, since meetings would still be recorded electronically and the recording would be available to the public.

Scott is requesting a change, though, that would require minutes be available at the following meeting, since the backlog in minutes is what caused this discussion to surface.

Making the production of minutes by the next meeting mandatory would solve that problem, she wrote in a memo to Cozzi and Webb.

“Changing the form of the minutes may or may not result in a satisfactory publication schedule. In my opinion, the only way to guarantee that minutes be available at the next regularly scheduled meeting is to say so,” Scott said.

  A similar ordinance with other policy recommendations was proposed in 2011. The ordinance was adopted, but the action minutes clause was removed by amendment before it passed.