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Minutes are an important and official written record of what happens during a meeting.

They include who was present, topics of discussion, actions, and any decisions that are made.

But long meetings generate long minutes.

And even longer hours for those who transcribe and create those minutes.

So, after a recent series of marathon meetings, the City of Golden Planning Commission is looking to explore ways to improve how they prepare and distribute minutes more accurately and efficiently.

“We brought it up last time we met and there were some differences of opinion on what minutes should look like and what type of minutes there should be,” said City of Golden Director of Community and Economic Development Rick Muriby during the commission’s March 8 planning meeting. “And there were questions about the record-keeping, video retention policy, and so forth. So, it generated a lot of discussion, internally.”

Generally, there are three types of minutes: verbatim, discussion and action, according to Muriby.

Verbatim meeting minutes are a word-for-word written transcript of who said what.

Discussion minutes, which is similar to what the planning commission currently uses, are less detailed and tend to be more of a summary of the discussion that leads to decisions made in the meeting.

Action minutes are decision-only minutes and do not include any of the discussion that goes into a decision or action.

Recent planning commission minutes had board members asking questions about how discussion elements were selected and the assignment of emotional values to those elements.

“I think that’s the trouble of discussion minutes,” said Muriby. “Because people will have their own opinions about what to pull out or what was determined.”

Muriby said he thought this may be why legal counsel was recommending the use of action minutes.

While some seemed to support the idea of moving to action minutes, others expressed concern for the potential loss of a searchable document.

While it was suggested the city’s existing practice of video recording meetings could be a suitable substitute, there’s inconsistent guidance on records retention for such media.

Video recordings are not easily searchable, as text might be. And without closed captioning, it presses concerns with ADA compliance.

One possible solution entertained during the meeting was the use of voice-to-text technology to complement the board’s official minutes, in whatever format they may eventually take.

Golden City Council has a special board and committees subcommittee, and Muriby suggested they may be looking into the matter as well.

“There’s a lot of desire seemingly from counsel to standardize practices among the boards and councils,” Muriby cautioned. “So whatever we discuss tonight, just keep that in mind. If you want to make a recommendation to that subcommittee, that would probably be the most appropriate way to create change from what we do today.”