PLEASANT HILL -- If the city clerk can't meet the March 31 deadline to produce meeting minutes for the past year, staffers may have to pitch in to help.

Although the council members won't pay for outside help to tackle the backlog, they agreed city staff can do some of the work if City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl falls even further behind.

At the council's request, City Manager June Catalano on Monday presented cost estimates -- ranging from about $3,800 to nearly $8,500 -- to have staffers or an outside vendor produce the delinquent council meeting minutes. If staff or a vendor permanently took over this task from Lehmkuhl, it would cost the city $5,076 to $11,796 per year, according to estimates.

"I still believe the primary person responsible for the minutes is the city clerk," Councilman Michael Harris said.

However, the council also gave Catalano authority to allocate up to $5,000 in staff time to work on the minutes if Lehmkuhl needs help meeting the March 31 deadline. Lehmkuhl will continue to update the agendas with the votes taken within several days of each meeting. These annotated agendas are posted on the city's website.

Pleasant Hill's former city clerk prepared verbatim accounts of council meetings until 2005, when the city switched to "summary minutes," Councilman David Durant said. Summary minutes typically include a brief description of each agenda item, council members' questions and comments, staff remarks, public comment and the action taken.

Last month, the council approved eight sets of formal minutes. But Pleasant Hill resident Dorothy Englund said Lehmkuhl's description of the public comment about the disputed mayoral election at the Dec. 16 meeting was "incomplete, biased and misleading."

Specifically, Englund objected to Lehmkuhl noting only that people had spoken in opposition or support of the mayoral selection process. On Monday, Englund repeated the comments she made at the Jan. 6 meeting to, "give (Lehmkuhl) one more chance to listen and maybe get it right the next time."

Council members agreed that future minutes should include several sentences summarizing the points speakers make during public comment.

Lehmkuhl acknowledged that including that level of detail in the minutes will take more time and may make it difficult to meet the March deadline.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.