Aurora lawmakers addressing homelessness, maternity leave amid busy agenda

Lamont Williams, left, and Greg Epps get dinner prepared for the evening at the Bridge House. Funding for Aurora homeless programs is on the city council agenda for Monday night
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | The Aurora City Council returns to the dais Monday night for a rescheduled meeting. The group’s study session has added a maternity leave policy to the agenda. 

At-large councilwoman Allison Hiltz, who is expecting a baby in April, initiated the policy update. 

“It wasn’t until my husband and I chose to start a family of our own that I realized that council doesn’t have a maternity policy,” Hiltz said. “I don’t think this was by design, I think it was more likely an oversight. After all, when I got elected, the average age of council members was 65, so this probably wasn’t something that was on their radar.”

The update to the council rules, if approved, would allow accommodations such as appearing remotely for special meetings and executive session. Additionally, accommodations would be made for council members who are present for roll call at city council meetings but not present for a particular vote. This would mean a council member could step out of a live city council meeting to pump or breastfeed. 

“These policies will provide protections that allow new parents to take the needed time to bond with their newborn while continuing to serve the people of Aurora. The ability to call in remotely ensures that I can remain an informed and active council member without being forced to choose between being a public servant and a mother,” Hiltz said. “That said, I recognize that I am fortunate to be in a position where I can be both the catalyst and the drafter of such a policy and hope to see protections expanded to other families.”

There is no financial penalty with or without the policy for a city council member not being present at a committee meeting, study session or formal council meeting.

“Without a formal policy it’s kind of just up to council and/or the mayor to decide what’s appropriate, so this will allow actual process and protections,” Hiltz said.

Aurora cancelled its scheduled meeting last Monday because of a snow storm. The lawmakers are expected to consider the agenda that was on schedule for last week, including an economic development incentive package, funding for various homelessness programs and a task force to address police relations with the community.