Sample City Council Procedures
The council shall meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month in the council chambers. On holidays, the council shall meet on the Thursday following the holiday.
Work sessions of the council shall be held in accordance with state statutes when special circumstances require such a session. A work session may be called by either the mayor, manager or majority of council members.
The mayor, or in the mayor’s absence, the mayor pro tem, may call a meeting at any time for the transaction of the business as specified. In addition, a special meeting shall be called upon petition of a majority of council members. Written notice of a special meeting shall be given each member of the council at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The notice shall be served on each member personally, or if the council member is not found, left at his or her place of residence.
Executive sessions may be held during regular or special meetings, so long as appropriate statutory requirements are met. Executive sessions may also be held during work sessions but must also meet appropriate statutory requirements.
The council has an obligation to be clear and simple in its procedures and the consideration of the questions coming before it. It should avoid invoking the finer points of parliamentary rules that serve only to obscure the issues and arouse the suspicion of the audience at public meetings and the citizens in general.
The mayor, or in the mayor’s absence the mayor pro tem, shall call the meeting to order at the hour designated for the meeting. If a quorum is not present, the city clerk shall immediately inform the absent members, except those known to be unavoidably detained, that their presence is required. If the absent member or members do not appear after the notice, the members present shall adjourn until a specific time or until the next regular meeting.
The [ ] shall prepare an agenda of the business to be presented at a regular council meeting. No item of business shall be added to an agenda after 5:00 p.m. on the [ ] of the week preceding the week of the council meeting for which the agenda has been prepared. The council shall consider at the meeting only matters that appear on the agenda for that meeting or are introduced by a council member or the mayor. Council members and the mayor shall endeavor to have subjects they wish considered submitted in time to be placed on the agenda.
In order to make more efficient use of meeting time, the [ ] shall place all ordinances, resolutions and requests for approval that are considered routine and non-controversial on a “consent agenda.” Any item placed on the consent agenda shall be removed at the request of the mayor or a council member prior to the time a vote is taken on the consent agenda items. All remaining items on the consent agenda shall be disposed of by a single motion “to adopt the consent agenda,” which shall not be debatable. Adoption of the consent agenda shall be by the affirmative vote of all council members present at the time the vote is taken and shall have the same effect as a separate vote for each item. If there are dissenting votes, each item on the consent agenda shall be voted upon separately in the usual manner.
Order of Business
The order of business at council meetings shall be as follows:
1) Roll Call
2) Finance report and authorization of vouchers
3) Public hearings
4) Oral requests and communications from the audience
5) Standing and executive committee reports
6) Special committee reports
7) Ordinances and resolutions
8) Further reports from the [ ] and staff
9) Written communications and petitions
10) Messages and papers from the mayor
11) Propositions and remarks from councilors
Prior to each public hearing, the mayor shall announce the nature of the matter to be heard. The mayor shall then declare the hearing to be open and invite any member of the audience to come forward to be heard. If appropriate, the mayor may first ask those persons in favor of the stated matter to come forward, with those speaking in opposition coming after. The mayor may, with the approval of council, limit the time allotted to speakers at each public hearing. The mayor shall announce the restriction prior to the commencement of the hearing.
1) The vote on every motion shall be taken by voice vote or roll call and entered in full upon the record.
2) A roll call vote shall be used for all ordinances and resolutions. Members shall not explain their vote during roll call. Any member may change his or her vote prior to the next order of business.
Duty to Vote
When a question is taken, every member shall vote unless a majority of the council, for special reason, excuse the person, but no member shall be permitted to vote on a subject in which he or she has a conflict-of-interest.
Reconsideration of Actions Taken
A member who voted with the majority may move for a reconsideration of an action at the same or the next following regular meeting. Once a matter has been reconsidered, no motion for further reconsideration shall be made without unanimous consent of the council.
Designation for Hearings Officer to Conduct Special Public Hearings
A hearings officer may be designated by the mayor to conduct special public hearings, when appropriate.
1) The sergeant-at-arms shall be the [ ] or an appropriate designee.
2) The sergeant-at-arms shall assist the mayor, as appropriate, to maintain order and decorum at all meetings.
General Speaking by Council Members
Every council member desiring to speak shall address the chair and, upon recognition by the presiding officer, shall confine the remarks to the question under debate.
Questioning of Administrative Staff by Council Members
Every council member desiring to question the administrative staff shall address the questions to the [ ], who shall be entitled to either answer the inquiry or designate a staff member to do so.
Administrative Staff and City Employees Addressing Council or Public
Members of the city staff and other city employees desiring to address the council or members of the public shall first be recognized by the chair and shall address the remarks to the chair. The staff may respond to questions or comments by the council or members of the public with permission of the chair, but shall always do so in a polite, tactful manner.
Public Members Addressing the Council
1) A public member desiring to address the council shall stand and wait to be recognized by the presiding officer. After recognition, the person’s name and address shall be stated for the record and the remarks shall be limited to the question under discussion. All remarks and questions shall be addressed to the presiding officer and not to any individual council member, staff member or other person. No person shall enter into discussion without being recognized by the mayor.
2) A public member addressing the council shall be limited to five minutes unless further time is granted by the presiding officer. No public member shall be allowed to speak more than once on any one subject until every other public member choosing to speak has spoken.
3) After a motion has been made or after a public hearing has been closed, no public member shall address the council without first securing permission from the majority of the council.
Order and Decorum
1) Any of the following shall be sufficient cause for the sergeant-at-arms to, at the direction of the presiding officer, remove any person from the council chambers, or meeting hall, for the duration of the meeting:
a) Use of unreasonably loud or disruptive language.
b) Making of loud or disruptive noise.
c) Engaging in violent or distracting action.
d) Willful injury of furnishings or of the interior of the council chambers or meeting hall.
e) Refusal to obey the rules of conduct provided within this ordinance, including the limitations on occupancy and seating capacity.
f) Refusal to obey an order of the mayor or an order issued by a council member which has been approved by a majority of the council present.
2) Unreasonably loud or disruptive language, noise or conduct is that which obstructs the work or the conducting of the business of the council.
3) Before the sergeant-at-arms is directed to remove any person from the meeting hall for conduct described in subsection 1), that person shall be given a warning by the presiding officer to cease his or her conduct.
4) If a meeting is disrupted by members of the audience, the presiding officer or a majority of the council present may order that the council chambers or other meeting hall be cleared.
Seating Capacity and Safety Requirements
1) The safe occupancy and seating capacity of the council chambers as determined by the fire marshal shall be posted within the council chambers. The limitations on occupancy and seating capacity shall be complied with at all times.
2) Aisles shall be kept clear at all times. Members of the audience shall abide by the seating plan in the chambers, and shall not pass beyond the restraining barriers unless requested to do so by the presiding officer.
3) Members of the press may sit in the area designated in the seating plan posted in the council chambers and must be able to present press identification to be allowed such seating.
Flags, Signs and Posters
No flags, posters, placards or signs, unless authorized by the presiding officer, may be carried or placed within the council chambers, any meeting hall in which the council is officially meeting, or any meeting hall in which a public hearing is being held. This restriction shall not apply to
armbands, emblems, badges or other articles worn on personal clothing of individuals, provided that such devices are of such a size and nature as not to interfere with the vision or hearing of other persons at the meeting, and providing that such devices do not extend from the body in a manner likely to cause injury to another.
The provisions of this ordinance shall not be construed to prevent news media representatives from performing their duties so long as the manner of performance is not unreasonably disruptive of the meeting.