Guridy said council will continue to answer questions that can be answered immediately.

He also said the members of the city’s administration, primarily represented by Dougherty at meetings, should not be “put on the chopping block” if they can’t immediately provide an answer.

Guridy said it is not true that 20 billboards are going into city parks, but that concern was not refuted during the meeting.

As president, Guridy often walks a tightrope -- trying to maintain order during a meeting without stifling the public’s ability to be heard.

Allentown’s council allows more opportunities to speak during meetings than many other local governing bodies.

Council vice president Ray O’Connell said he thought the new timers worked great.

“They saw the time, they respected the time,” he said.

Only one person kept talking after the tone sounded.

Fegley later said that Guridy twice interrupted people and told them their time was up.

“That never happened in the past," said Fegley. "I don’t think it should be strict enforcement.”

What did happen in the past was that council members and/or members of the administration often found themselves engaged in discussions or debates with people who stood to speak -- conversations that continued long after the buzzer had sounded on the old timer, which did not face the public.

Rather than a shrill buzz, the new timer emits a bubbly musical tone to let people know when their time is up.

Individual residents get three minutes to speak, those representing organizations get five.

In addition to the numbers counting down to zero, a gold circle gradually disappears to indicate how much of each minute is left.

There was one small glitch. Ken Heffentrager was only given three minutes to speak, although he represents the Allentown Tenant Association.

Also during its meeting, council:

• Issued a proclamation honoring Central Catholic High School’s basketball team as the first area boys team to win its first 29 games. The neatly-dressed team members attended the meeting and each of them got a copy of the proclamation as they shook hands with members of council.

Central Catholic High School boys' basketball team

• Approved the creation of a new Allentown Public Art Committee. Its
mission will include managing, maintaining and expanding the city’s collection of public art.

• Extended the life of the Allentown Parking Authority from 2034 to 2064. That will allow the authority to do long-term borrowing for future improvements such as parking decks and parking lots.

• Passed a resolution in support of two bills in the state legislature that would allow all municipal police to use speed-timing equipment. Currently only Pennsylvania State Police are allowed to use such equipment to apprehend speeders.