Evanstonians should have more time to read up on what aldermen are planning to do ahead of City Council meetings starting next month.

A staff memo to the City Council for Monday’s meeting says that starting with the Sept. 23 Council meeting, the staff plans to issue agenda packets for Council meetings on the Wednesday before each meeting.

Until now packets have been issued on Thursday or Friday.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, asked last month that the Council’s Rules Committee discuss moving up the release date after several speakers at the July 15 meeting said they’d felt blind-sided by the Friday afternoon release of the meeting packet with information on the proposed censure of City Clerk Devon Reid.

Local news organizations have urged for some time that the Council packets be released sooner.

The staff memo says the city also plans to switch to using a new agenda management software, called iCompass, later this year.

The vendor claims over 1,000 municipalities use its system and that it can reduce agenda preparation time for meetings by up to 80 percent.

If you’re wondering what it looks like, Holiand, Michigan, is one of the communities now using the system. And Cook County, Minnesota, issued a press release touting its benefits when it rolled out the system this spring.

It has some similarities to the BoardBook system used by the District 65 and 202 school boards in Evanston.

Until now the City Council agenda packet has been issued as a single file in the Adobe .pdf format.

The new software system is scheduled to take effect for City Council and standing committee meetings this fall and to be rolled out to all city boards and committees early next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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