Board Discusses New Meeting Policy
On Monday, Jan 31, the Modoc County Board of Supervisors, at the request of Clerk of the Board Stephanie Northrup, (pictured, above right) held a workshop to discuss policy and procedure. The workshop was noticed to the public on the preceding Thursday, Jan. 27, at the bottom of the board’s agenda for the Feb 1 board meeting.
Northrup presented findings based on how other counties conduct their meetings. Her information was compiled from inquiries to approximately a dozen counties, according to Supervisor Geri Byrne who attended the workshop.
Up to this point the Modoc county supervisors have conducted their meetings based on individual supervisor’s interpretations of meeting procedures including Robert's Rules of Order and California Association of Counties (CSAC) policy.
As audience members at board meetings have repeatedly pointed out, there currently is no written policy for board meeting rules and procedures. As a result, confusion has been the standard rather than the exception, specifically in these areas: the appropriate time to make a motion, the detail and clarity of agenda items, time limits on public comments and general rude behavior.
This first step in establishing policy and procedure in Modoc County government was greeted by Supervisor Byrne, who has advocated bringing the board into compliance with standard meeting procedures.
“This is a great step in a good direction,” she told the Modoc County Daily News blog.
In her opinion the following recommendations from Northrup are most significant: a procedure for making a motion that allows for discussion any time before the vote, more information in board packets, the fact that an abstention is not a vote and a general call for order and decorum.
Northrup told the Modoc County Daily News blog she plans to put the “Modoc County Rules of Procedure” on the Feb. 8 agenda for board action. She also plans to offer a public comment period at both the beginning and end of the meetings and the consent agenda will appear as one of the first items.
The complete document that will go before the board on Feb. 8 is printed below:
MODOC COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
RULES OF PROCEDURE
ORGANIZATION AND MEETINGS
Applicability of Rules
These rules, pursuant to Government Code §25003, shall apply to the Board of Supervisors of the County of Modoc whether sitting as the Board of Supervisors of the County as or the governing board of any other governmental agency. The rules are intended to expedite transaction of the business of the Board of Supervisors in an orderly fashion. The rules are deemed to be procedural only. The failure to strictly observe application of the rules shall not affect the jurisdiction of the Board or invalidate any action taken at a meeting that is otherwise held in conformity with law.
The organizational meeting of the Board of Supervisors shall be held on the first Tuesday succeeding the first Monday after the first day of January of each year, at which time there shall be an election of officers of the Board.
Election of Officers
The Clerk of the Board shall take the gavel for the first agenda item which shall be the election of a Chair and Vice-Chair for the ensuing calendar year. A member shall not be elected to serve as Chair unless he or she has been a member of the Board for the preceding calendar year.
Chair and Vice-Chair
The Chair shall serve as presiding officer of the Board, rule on questions of procedure, appoint annual standing committees and all special assignments, partake in the agenda review, execute official Board records and documents presented by the Clerk of the Board, and shall also represent the Board at ceremonial and official functions. Rulings on questions of procedure and appointments by the Chair shall be subject to appeal to the Board.
The Vice-Chair shall have and exercise all powers and duties of the Chair at the meetings over which he or she is called to preside and at ceremonial and official functions, which the Chair cannot attend. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall call the meeting to order and serve as presiding officer. In the absence of the Chair and Vice-Chair, the remaining Board members shall choose which of them will preside until either the Chair or Vice-Chair appears.
Regular meetings shall be held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month except the Board shall not be required to meet on any Tuesday which falls on an election day or during the time of the CSAC Annual Committee meeting.
Regular meetings shall commence at 9:00 a.m. and shall be held at the Sheriff’s Annex Building at 211 E First Street, Alturas, California, unless the time, date, and location are changed by a majority vote of the Board. Notice of any continuance must be posted within 24 hours of adjournment, at or near the place where the meeting was held. At each regular meeting, or any continuance thereof, the Board may transact any and all business which it is authorized or permitted by law to contract. Business shall normally be conducted between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., but may continue past that time without objection from the members present.
All open sessions of the Board shall be recorded by audio means and may also be recorded and broadcast by any member of the public or media so long as it does not disrupt the proceedings.
Special Meetings and Workshops
Special Meetings and Workshops may be called by the Chair or by a majority of the Board at times and locations other than the above in accordance with the law and specified notice provisions set forth in Government Code §54956. In all cases the Board may transact any and all business which it is authorized or permitted by law to transact.
Clerk of the Board
The Clerk of the Board shall be present during all meetings for the purpose of taking and maintaining the minutes of the meeting; presenting and receiving correspondence, records, documents, claims, reports, or petitions; preserving all records; marking or attesting all resolutions and ordinances; imparting information on Board documents of public record; and otherwise fulfilling all duties imposed by law or required by the Board or by the presiding officer. Any documentation that is provided to a majority of the Board either prior to the meeting or at the meeting must be concurrently distributed to the Clerk of the Board for public review.
County Counsel shall be present during meetings as requested by the Board, Administration or Department Heads; to advise on all legal questions. No ordinance, resolution, agreement or contract submitted with an agenda item will be considered by the Board until its legality as to form has been approved by County Counsel.
County Administrative Officer
The County Administrative Officer or Assistant County Administrative Officer shall be present during all meetings for the purpose of assisting the Board in their deliberations and decision making unless excused by the presiding officer.
Quorum and Action
A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and no act of the Board shall be valid or binding unless a majority of all members are present and concur therein (unless a 4/5ths vote is required). (See Appendix A for 4/5ths vote requirements)
A Board directive may be given by information action of a majority of the Board and shall be recorded in the minutes, including the names of any Board members who state their opposition to the action.
Absence of a Quorum
In the absence of a quorum, the remaining members or the Clerk may adjourn the meeting to another date and time in accordance with Government Code §54995 and shall post a Notice of Adjournment. In the event a Supervisor leaves the meeting room, momentarily causing a lack of quorum, he should notify the Chair of his intended absence and the Chair may call a recess.
The agenda shall contain a brief general description of each item to be discussed or transacted at the meeting to which the agenda applies. The agenda shall indicate the time and location of the meeting and shall be posted by the Clerk as required by law. The agenda shall include the physical address of the Clerk where the public can obtain all documents/information relating to an agenda item as well as the Internet location of the meeting agenda and materials.
The Clerk shall arrange items under the following agenda headings: Consent Agenda, Consideration/Action, Discussion/Information, Public Hearing, and Closed Session.
Order of Business
The Board shall conduct business in the order specified in the posted agenda or as modified at the discretion of the Chair.
The Clerk of the Board shall make a note in the minutes as to whom is present at the beginning of each meeting, and shall further record, during the course of each meeting, the arrival of any member listed as absent and the departure of any member listed as present.
Planned absences shall be communicated to the Clerk of the Board, County Administrative Officer, or the Chair at least one week in advance. Unanticipated absences shall be reported as soon as possible. If a member is absent, he or she may have entered into the record the reason why.
Minutes of Previous Meetings
The minutes of previous meetings shall be submitted to the Board for additions, corrections, and approval by a majority vote of the Board. If a Supervisor was absent from a meeting, he/she will abstain from voting on the approval of the minutes.
With the exception of items sponsored by Board members, all items it be placed on the agenda shall be presented to the Clerk of the Board and the County Administrative Officer not later than 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday preceding the regular meeting for which the agenda is prepared and shall include a complete agenda summary, all supporting documentation and a fiscal analysis if necessary.
Matters Not on the Agenda
No action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda except: (1) Upon a majority vote of the Board that an emergency situation exists as defined in Government Code §54956.5; (2) Upon a determination by a 4/5ths vote of the Board, or if less than 4/5ths of the members are present, a unanimous vote of those members present, that the need to take immediate action arose subsequent to the agenda being posted; (3) When the item was posted for a prior meeting of the Board, and at the prior meeting the item was continued to the meeting at which action is being taken. (Also see Appendix A)
Public comment on any item not appearing on the agenda but which is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board is permitted. The Board limits testimony on matters not on the agenda to three minutes per person and not more than ten minutes for a particular subject on the agenda at the discretion of the Chair.
PROCEDURE AND VOTING
Order and Decorum
The Chair shall preserve order and decorum and shall decide all questions of order and procedure subject to an appeal to the Board.
The nature of any appeal shall be briefly stated and the Chair shall have the right to state the reason for his or her decision. The Board shall decide the case without debate, and the question shall be stated as follows: “Shall the ruling of the Chair be sustained?” A point of order may only be raised by a member of the Board.
No member wishing to speak or debate shall proceed until he or she shall have addressed the Chair and been recognized thereby. When two or more members speak at the same time, the Chair shall determine who is entitled to the floor.
While a member is speaking, no member shall engage or entertain a private discussion.
All members shall refrain from the use of profanity, emotional outbursts, personal attacks or any speech or conduct which tends to bring the organization into disrepute.
Any member desiring to exit the meeting shall do so in a calm and quiet way so as not to disturb the meeting. If a member knows that they will have to leave at a specified time for another engagement, they should inform the Chair prior to the meeting or during a recess. When a motion to adjourn is carried, the members shall remain seated until the Chair declares the meeting adjourned.
The Chair may determine when orderly conduct of a meeting is not feasible owing to disruptive behavior by persons in attendance. The Chair may order the removal of the person(s) disrupting the meeting. If order cannot be restored by removal of such person(s), the Chair may order the meeting room cleared and continue in session. Members of the news media, except those participating in the disturbance, shall be allowed to remain. The Chair may re-admit any person(s) provided their re-admission will not disrupt the continued orderly conduct of business.
Privilege of the Floor
Members of the public have the right to address the Board on any item within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board pursuant to Government Code §54954.3.
At the invitation of the Chair members of the public who wish to speak shall come to the podium and identify themselves by name. The Chair may, in the interest of facilitating the business of the Board, limit the amount of time a citizen may use in addressing the Board.
Each speaker shall refrain from making defamatory, profane or personal remarks, using abusive or threatening language or engaging in any other disorderly conduct that willfully disrupts, disturbs or otherwise impedes the orderly conduct of any meeting.
Each speaker shall refrain from unnecessary repetition of issues and points already raised by previous speakers.
Motions – General
Any motion for action shall require a second before being acknowledged by the Chair. If a motion is not seconded, the motion fails for lack of a second, and shall be so declared by the Chair. Motions pertaining to an item listed on the agenda can be done at any time after that item has been read aloud for the record, but not after the item has been closed unless the Board wishes to rescind an item or to bring the item back for reconsideration. The Clerk shall enter into the minutes the motion and the names of the moving and seconding members. After a motion is made it shall be open for debate but may be withdrawn by the moving and seconding members at any time before a decision is made or an amendment adopted. A motion may be amended with the consent of the moving and seconding members at any time before a decision is made. There can only be one motion on the floor at a time. Should the initial motion fail the floor is open for alternate motions. The Clerk shall enter into the minutes the vote of each member on each motion.
Motions are required for, but not limited to, the following items:
To table or postpone an item
To approve or adopt an item
To disapprove or deny an item (you can also choose to take no action)
To amend an item
To ratify an item
Motions to adjourn or to take a recess shall always be in order but may not be made while the Chair is acknowledging the question, or while a member has the floor.
Consent Agenda Items
All items listed under Consent Agenda will be enacted by one motion for unanimous approval of the recommended actions contained in the agenda item recommendation section. There will be no separate discussion of these items prior to the time the Board votes on the motion unless any member of the Board or the public requests removal of specific items from the Consent Agenda for separate discussion and action.
Consent items consist of items that are normally routine in nature and that do not require individual consideration. Such items may include: receipt of pre-authorized or reoccurring grants, agreements/contracts with minimal changes, requests for and approval of bid openings, appointments to special districts, and meeting minutes.
Upon receipt of a request by a County Agency or Board member for a public hearing established by statute, the Clerk may proceed to set the matter for public hearing without further action of the Board unless the Board is required by law to set the matter for hearing. In that event, the matter will be placed on the agenda to set the matter for hearing. Most public hearings, unless otherwise noted, have to be published ten (10) days prior to the meeting. Therefore requests for a public hearing should be turned in at least three (3) weeks in advance to allow the Clerk time to get the information to the newspaper.
Public Hearings Procedures
The following procedure shall be followed for public hearings.
The Chair shall officially open the public hearing.
Department staff may present the item and answer questions.
Persons in support or opposition to the action may address the Board after the Chair has opened the floor to either proponents or opponents.
The Chair shall, following the conclusion of public comments, close the public hearing.
Board members shall then deliberate and either determine the matter or continue the public hearing to another date.
Ordinances are introduced at one meeting (first reading), then placed on the agenda for adoption at a subsequent meeting. The first reading will be scheduled as a public hearing and shall be published in the paper at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled meeting.
The first reading will become the primary hearing at which: (1) the title of the ordinance will be read; (2) the Board will typically consider a motion to waive the reading of the text of the ordinance and to introduce the ordinance by title only; (3) members of the public shall have an opportunity to address the ordinance; (4) the Board will by a motion and majority vote set the second reading.
At the second reading: (1) the title of the Ordinance may be read; (2) a motion to adopt the ordinance may be made; (3) a majority vote will adopt the ordinance.
The ordinance, or a summary of the ordinance, is to be published in the paper within 15 days after approval.
Pursuant to Government Code §25123, ordinances shall generally become effective 30 days from the date of final passage.
Urgency ordinances will take effect immediately upon adoption pursuant to Government Code §25123 and Elec. Code §9235. (Must be supported by findings)
Rules of Voting
No act of the Board shall be valid or binding unless a majority of all the members concur therein unless a 4/5ths vote is required. (See Appendix A for 4/5ths vote requirements)
The Chair shall use his or her discretion in deciding whether to call for the vote in unison or by roll call. As a matter of public policy, all members of the Board shall take a position, and a vote on all issues brought before them. When it comes time for Supervisors to vote on an issue, a Supervisor may vote “aye” or “no”. If a Supervisor abstains from voting, that means the Supervisor has not voted. Any member who abstains shall state the reason why, either before or immediately following any abstention. An abstention is considered a non-vote and goes with neither the proponents nor opponents of the motion. An abstention vote should happen whenever a Supervisor believes he/she has a conflict of interest or that there was insufficient information for making a decision. Otherwise, Supervisors should cast votes on all issues put before them.
In the event a motion fails because of a tie vote, the Board will continue the item for consideration to the next regular meeting. In the event of a second tie vote, the motion fails.
A member who has a disqualifying financial conflict of interest or is disqualified from voting for another legally compelling reason shall:
Publicly identify the financial interest or other reason for being legally unable to vote in a manner sufficient to be understood by the public;
Recuse him/herself from discussing and voting on the matter;
The member may also leave the room until after the discussion, vote, and other disposition of the matter are concluded.
A supervisor who is absent from all or a part of an agenda item shall abstain from voting on that item.
Particular items which may come before the Board and which require four-fifths (4/5ths) vote are listed in Appendix A which may be up-dated without amending these rules.
Motion to Rescind
A motion to rescind any action or motion shall require four-fifths vote unless notice has been given at the previous meeting, either verbally or in writing. If notice has been given the motion requires only a majority vote of all the members of the Board. A motion to rescind is not in order if action has already been taken which cannot be undone.
Motion to Reconsider
Any member of the Board who votes in the majority on a question, as well as any member who was absent, is eligible to make a motion to reconsider. A motion to reconsider shall be in order during the meeting at which the action to be reconsidered took place provided members of the public in attendance during the original action are still present in the Board chamber. In all other cases, motions for reconsideration must be placed on a future agenda for action. A motion to reconsider shall require a majority vote. A motion to reconsider, if lost, shall not be renewed nor shall any subject be a second time reconsidered within twelve (12) months except by a 4/5ths vote of the Board.
Closed Session Items
Closed sessions are permitted as follows:
- Litigation: To meet with County Counsel to consider litigation which has been filed, or which is likely to be filed, by another party, or to consider having the County file litigation.
- Labor Negotiations: To meet with the County’s representatives to instruct them in negotiations with labor unions and other employee representatives.
- Property Negotiations: To discuss the price or payment terms.
- Emergencies: To meet with law enforcement officials and other officials in the event of natural or human caused emergencies which cause a threat to public services or facilities.
- Personnel: To discuss the appointment, employment, performance evaluation, discipline, complaints about or dismissal of a specific employee or potential employee.
The Chair shall appoint the number of members needed to each standing committee, with one to two as Representatives and one as an Alternate within ten (10) days from the date of the organizational meeting in January.
All standing committees shall be appointed for the calendar year, and the members shall continue in office until their successors have been appointed.
Ad-hoc committees may be formed by Chair directive or Board action and shall include prescribed duties and membership of the committee. Status reports from Ad-Hoc Committees shall be made to the Board at each regular meeting. Ad-Hoc Committees are encouraged to conclude their business at the end of each calendar year but may be extended at the recommendation of the committee and approval of the Board. The Clerk of the Board will maintain a current index of Ad-Hoc Committees and their purpose.
Board Assignments/Reporting Requirements
All members who are assigned to special projects, committees, and separate Boards or Commissions shall provide regular reports to the full Board regarding their activity in connection with the special assignment.
Suspension or Amendment to Rules
Any rule may be suspended or amended upon the consent of 4/5ths of all the members of the Board of Supervisors. Suspension of any rule shall apply only to those matters before the Board at that time.
A proposal to amend the rules shall be filed in writing with the Clerk of the Board and shall be made a special item of business at the next regular meeting of the Board.
Appendix A. 4/5ths Vote Requirement
The following actions require a 4/5ths vote of the Board.
Appropriation (Budget) Transfers
a. Changes to proposed budget after budget hearing but prior to final budget (Gov. Code §29088).
b. Transfers from the Contingency Fund (Gov. Code §29125).
c. Transfers of unanticipated revenue (Gov. Code §29130).
d. Appropriations for an emergency (Gov. Code §29127).
e. Exceeding budget in emergencies (Gov. Code §5379.2).
f. Transfer from designated reserves excluding General Reserve (Gov. Code §29130).
Off Agenda Item
g. To consider an item not on the Agenda, the Board must make findings that the need to take action arose after the Agenda was posted. If Board members are absent, it requires a unanimous vote of those members present.
h. Adoption of interim zoning ordinance as urgency measure (Gov. Code §65858).
i. Adopt or amend a general plan element, zoning ordinance, or building regulation.
j. Contracts, changes, or alterations which increase costs over the maximum allowed advertising but are less than 10% of the original contracts (Pub. Contract Code §20137).
k. Plans and specifications, for public buildings or structures, when changes increase costs (Pub. Contract Code §20135).
l. Bridge construction contracts, modifications of contracts or plans (Pub. Contract Code §20405).
m. Cooperation with cities in road work (Sts. And Hwy. Code §1680).
n. City Streets – designation as a county highway (Sts. And Hwy. Code §1700).
o. County roads, improvement through use of the General Fund monies (Sts. and Hwy. Code §1070)
p. Private roads, improvement and repair with County funds (Sts. and Hwy. Code §969.5).
q. Leasing of Road equipment (Sts. and Hwy §942).
r. Establishment of Right of Way Revolving Fund (Sts. and Hwy Code §1627).
s. Adoption of resolution of intention to sell or lease County property (Gov. Code §25526).
t. Leasing of certain County property for certain specified usage (Gov. Code §25536); Amendment of lease or contract (Gov. Code §25536.5).
u. Parks, resolution of intention to abandon all or part – 5 votes (Gov. Code §25583).
v. Condemnation proceedings, resolution of necessity (Code Civ. Proc. $1245.240).
w. County property, conveyance or exchange to another governmental agency (Gov. Code §25365).
x. County property, conveyance to cities for park purposes without reimbursement – unanimous vote of members present (Gov. Code Sections 25550 and 25550.5); County aid to cities for park purposes – 4/5ths vote (Gov. Code §25553); Dedication of unused parklands – 4/5ths vote (Gov. Code §2560.4).
y. Property acquisition for airport purposes by purchase, condemnation or lease; Resolution for County aid (Gov. Code §26021).
z. Airports, contribution of funds to U.S. Government (Gov. Code §26026).
aa. Special Assessment District, exceptions to proceedings relating to sanitary projects (Sts. and Hwy. Code §2808).
bb. 1911 Act, Majority Protest, over-ruling of protest (Sts. and Hwy. Code §5222).
cc. County sanitation, maintenance and flood control district loans, establishment of revolving fund (Gov. Code §23014).
dd. County Service Area Loans, establishment of revolving fund for making loans (Gov. Code §25210.9(c)).
ee. County Service Area, extension of period for repayment of loans (Gov. Code §25210.9(b)).
ff. Investment of Retirement Funds in real property sold or leased to County, requires unanimous vote of Board of Retirement and 4/5ths vote of Board of Supervisors.
gg. Records, destruction of original records which have not been microfilmed (Gov. Code §26202).
hh. Delinquent Accounts – Assignment to a collection agency (Gov. Code §26220).
ii. Urgency / Emergency Ordinance for preservation of public peace, health or safety – to become effective immediately (normally requires 30 days for ordinance to become effective) (Gov. Code §25123 and Elec. Code §9235).
jj. Destruction of records exposed to asbestos (Gov. Code §26202.5).
kk. Replacement of annual Special Audit with a biennial audit for Special Districts: Requires unanimous request of governing board, and unanimous approval of the Board of Supervisors (Gov. Code §26909(e)).
ll. Employ counsel to assist District Attorney, County Counsel or other counsel for the County (Gov. Code §25203).
mm. Cash sale or lease of any property, not required for public use, at a noticed public auction, 4/5ths vote; sale or lease at an unadvertised, private sale can be authorized by simple majority, but only after the Board unanimously finds that the value of property does not exceed $500, monthly rental value is less than $75, or it is a product of a County farm (Gov. Code §25363).
nn. Resolution negating public bidding (Pub. Contract Code §20150.10).