Citizens are welcome and encouraged to both attend and participate in regular council meetings. If you are interested, please read all the sections below that discuss the process including registration and conduct.
Remember, your City Council meets regularly at 7 PM on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in the City Council Chambers located behind City Hall at 2400 Washington Avenue.
City Council Meeting Decorum
- For safety reasons, petitioning, picketing, displaying signs or posters, solicitation, demonstrating, pamphlet distribution, and conducting polls shall not be permitted in the City Council chambers, the City Council conference room, or the waiting area and corridors adjacent to the chambers and conference room or within 50 feet of the doorway to the council chambers, council conference room, or the waiting area and corridors adjacent to the chambers, council conference room, and the building containing the council chambers.
- These regulations do not preclude speakers, when addressing City Council, from delivering to the council members by way of the City Clerk written materials including reports, statements, exhibits, letters, or signed petitions. Nor do these regulations preclude those addressing City Council from using a chart or graph during their verbal presentation.
- The Mayor or other presiding officer shall preserve decorum and shall decide all questions of public order.
- At the request of the Mayor or City Manager, one or more persons, including city police officers shall act as sergeant-at-arms or sergeants-at-arms at all City Council meetings. The sergeant-at-arms, or sergeants-at-arms shall, under the direction of the Mayor or other presiding officer, have charge of the council chambers, the council conference room, and the waiting areas and corridors adjacent thereto, and shall prevent disorder or interruption of the business of City Council.
- Furthermore, nothing herein shall be interpreted to prohibit speakers or any citizens from addressing oral or written comments or complaints on any subject not germane to the business of City Council, to City Council, its constituent members, the City Clerk, or city administration, outside of the context or time frame of City Council's regular, prefatory or special meeting(s).
The City Council hopes these guidelines will encourage the greatest possible participation by citizens the city government.
Thank you for your interest in our City Council meetings. Good, responsive government depends on the interest and involvement of all citizens.
The City Council meeting is cablecast live on City Cable Channel 48 and re-cablecast on Thursday at 7:30 PM and Friday at 7:30 AM.
Limitations When Addressing City Council
- Speakers shall confine their remarks to no more than three minutes when addressing City Council on any agenda item. If the electronic device on the podium is available, it will signify when 3 minutes have concluded by lights that change from green, to yellow and finally red. If the electronic device is not available, speakers will be advised when their 3 minutes have concluded.
- Speakers cannot "transfer" nor "designate" their time to another speaker in an effort to provide another speaker more than the allotted 3 minutes on any agenda item. After a speaker has concluded his or her remarks, the speaker should return to his or her seat unless a member of City Council indicates that he or she has a question to address to the speaker.
Registering for Public Comment
Every item on the agenda of a regular meeting of City Council is open to discussion by anyone attending the meeting. Persons having an interest in any agenda item who desire to comment, shall fill out a card with their name and residential address, indicating the item on which they wish to speak. Under the agenda item Citizen Comments on Matters Germane to the Business of City Council, citizens may address City Council on matters not on the current agenda.
The cards shall be available at the main entrance to the council chambers and should be given to the City Clerk or her designated representative prior to the meeting. The Mayor will recognize speakers when the agenda item they are interested in is called. Speakers will be asked to approach the podium in front of City Council when their name is announced. Under agenda item, Citizen Comments on Matters Germane to the Business of City Council, citizens may address City Council on any matters not listed on the agenda.
Cell Phone & Recordings
- Ringers on cell phones or pagers shall be turned off during the time that persons are in the City Council Chambers.
- The taking of photographs and video or audio recordings of a speaker or the activities during a regular meeting of City Council shall be from the side aisles. During regular meetings of City Council, no flashes or lighting devices may be used by photographers or operators of video recording equipment.
- During prefatory meetings of City Council, the taking of photographs and video or audio recordings of a speaker or the activities thereof are permitted from the center aisle; however, the photographer or recorder should take steps to avoid obstructing the center aisle for any length of time in such a manner as to prevent others from taking photographs, or to block the view of others attending the City Council meeting.
When a speaker is called by the Mayor, the following is required:
- Speakers shall proceed to the speaker's podium and adjust the microphone to the level of their mouth. Speakers should speak into the microphone to ensure that their name and remarks are heard and recorded as a part of the record of the meeting.
- Speakers shall state their full name and address.
- If a speaker represents a group or organization, the speaker shall indicate the name of the organization and the speaker's relationship to the group or organization. Speakers may ask others from their group or organization to stand at their seats while the group's or organization's name is announced, but non-speakers or individual members are not permitted to stand with speakers at the podium and for safety reasons, no members of the group or organization are permitted to stand in the aisles or doorways of the City Council chambers. Those members of a group or organization who do stand when the name of the group or organization is announced shall then be seated.
- Speakers shall state their position, give the facts to substantiate their position, and relate the concerns they believe City Council should consider.
- If a written statement or other supportive material is available, it should be delivered to the City Clerk for the record.
- Speakers shall refrain from words or statements which, from their usual construction and common acceptance, are construed as insults or which have a tendency to cause an act of violence or a breach of the peace.
- Speakers shall refrain from obscenity, vulgarity, and profanely cursing or swearing.
- Speakers shall refrain from actions that would interrupt the public meeting.
City Council Meeting Terms
City Council uses certain, specialized terms throughout meetings. In order to better understand those terms and follow the progress of a meeting, those terms are defined below.
- A list of items considered for vote by council members during a City Council meeting. The agenda is available on the city's website, at local public libraries, on City Channel 48, in the City Clerk's Office and the lobby of City Hall and City Center at Oyster Point.
- City Council approves certain contractual agreements entered into the city such as real estate transactions. These types of contracts are first reviewed by the City Attorney as to legal content and form.
- City Council appoints community members to more than 50 boards, commissions, and committees. These groups study policy, research and consider project options and implications, obtain citizen input, and make recommendations to City Council. Issues addressed may include urban planning, zoning appeals, air transportation, youth services, human affairs, and housing. The City Clerk's Office accepts all applications from citizens on behalf of the City Council.
- Consent Agenda
- List of items that are voted on in a block instead of being voted on individually. This includes minutes of work sessions and council meetings, and any item believed by the Clerk of Council or the City Manager to be routine and not controversial in nature.
- Closed Session
- Private sessions for City Council which may exclude the public and the media. These sessions take place only when topics specified by law; such as purchase of property or pending litigation, are discussed.
- New Business
- An opportunity for each City Council member, as well as the City Manager, City Clerk or City Attorney, to present additional items for vote or for information that is not included on the formal agenda.
- Documents setting forth a law. Some ordinances may amend, repeal or supplement sections of the City Code.
- Public Hearings
- City Council schedules public hearings to obtain citizens' views on proposals which affect a great number of residents, such as the annual budget, or which directly affect a specific group of residents, such as property rezoning or special assessments of major construction projects. At these hearings all citizens have the opportunity to express an opinion, whether of protest or support, to the City Council. Public hearings may be held at regular City Council meetings or any other time specified by City Council.
- Written instruments which, when adopted, express the opinion or intention of the City Council regarding business matters brought before them.
- Roll call
- The process by which Council members cast their individual votes. These decisions are recorded by the City Clerk according to how each council member votes.
- When a City Council position becomes vacant for any reason, City Council makes a temporary appointment. These appointments must be made within 60 days of the vacancy, and the appointee serves until the next City Council election.