City of Sartell Council Meeting Guidelines
City Council Meeting Schedule: The Sartell City Council’s regular meetings are typically held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month beginning at 6:00 p.m. The meeting agenda is available for review at Sartell City Hall and on the city website (www.sartellmn.com) on the Friday preceding the meeting. Regular meetings of the Council are broadcast live on cable channel 181 and rebroadcast the following day at 9 am. Video recordings of the meetings are also available on the city website generally within 48 hours following the meeting.
City Council Meeting Format: Following reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Council takes action to approve the agenda for the meeting. The following is a brief explanation of the sections of the Sartell City Council agenda:
•Open Forum/Public Comment Session: The City Council has set aside up to 15 minutes at the beginning of each regular Council meeting to take comment from up to five members of the public. Individuals wishing to offer comment to the Council may register by contacting City Hall prior to 4:30 pm on the date of the meeting or by signing up at the Open Forum sign-up sheet provided prior to the start of each Council meeting. Each participant is allowed up to three minutes to address the Council at the podium. The Open Forum session is devoted exclusively to accepting comment from the public. While the City Council may opt to refer a matter to staff or one of its boards or commissions for study, the Council will not debate, discuss or formally act on any matter presented during the Open Forum session.
•Special Presentations: Contact the City Administrator for determination on whether an agenda item should be delivered to the Council as a special presentation.
•Consent Agenda: The Council uses a Consent Agenda for routine, non-controversial items needing little or no further deliberation. Those items listed on the Consent Agenda are approved together as one vote unless a Council member requests removal of an individual item for separate consideration. Items removed from consent agenda shall be considered separately by the council after Consent Agenda vote is taken.
•Public Hearings: These are formal proceedings that give the public the opportunity to express their concerns or support, ask questions, or provide additional information on a particular matter. The Mayor may use discretion whether to allow repeat testimony. All individuals offering testimony are required to do so using the podium microphone and must identify themselves by name, address and any business or organization that they represent. Once the public hearing is closed, no further testimony is typically allowed and the Council will deliberate amongst itself and with staff and/or applicant. While the Council strives to make timely decisions, occasionally additional information may be needed making it desirable to defer action until a later date. Depending on the situation, the hearing may be continued to a future date to preserve the ability to attain additional testimony.
•Old Business: Matters that have had previous discussion by the Council that are expected to require further deliberation by Council and City staff prior to Council action are placed on the agenda as “Old Business”.
•New Business: Matters that have not had any previous discussion by the Council are placed on the agenda as “New Business” for deliberation by Council and City staff.
•Department Reports: This part of the agenda is reserved for department managers to provide timely updates to the Council and to address questions or concerns presented by members of the Council.
•City Council Updates & Miscellaneous Business: Updates from individual council members relating to various boards and commissions they each serve on are typically shared at this time. Council members have the option to preview an issue at this time to see if the Council as a whole wants an issue on a Council agenda.
Rules of Order for the City of Sartell
a. Purpose. The purpose of these rules is to foster debate and discussion in an orderly manner, not to suppress honest discussion with excessive formality. Without rules, confusion and disorderly proceedings would hamper all city action, no matter how well intended. Rules allow city business to be conducted as efficiently as possible, protect minority groups by giving every person a chance to be heard, prevent discussion of multiple topics at once, and allow decisions to be made by majority rule.
b. Rights of council members. All council members are equal and have the same rights to make motions; object to motions in a timely manner; participate in debate; have their votes counted; and speak, when recognized, free of interruption.
c. Obligations of council members. The rights of individual council members cannot be realized unless all council members also recognize their obligations as members of the political body. Council members are obligated to receive the recognition of the chair before speaking, except as otherwise provided by these rules. No one has the right to speak at whim. Council members are obligated to speak directly on the subject being considered and observe time limits for comment. Finally, council members are obligated to address all remarks to the presiding officer, avoid
personal attacks, and refrain from using any insulting or demeaning language or indecent or threatening behavior.
Rule 1. Motions.
All formal actions of council must be by motion. A councilmember may make only one motion at a time.
Rule 2. Language for making a motion.
The appropriate language for making a motion shall be substantially similar to “I move to…”
Rule 3. Procedure for consideration of a motion.
Once a motion has been made and seconded, the presiding officer shall restate the motion and (if applicable) open the motion up for debate, provided that the mayor determines that the motion is in order and no objections to the motion have been made pursuant to Rule 4. A motion is in order if it is made at a proper time in the proper format, including having been seconded by another member of the Council, and does not violate any applicable rules of law, ordinance, or city policy, including city policies on decorum and civility, and is not made for the purpose of unduly delaying the proceedings. Debate shall follow the procedures in Rule 5. Once debate has concluded, the presiding officer shall restate the motion and call for a vote on the issue. A motion shall be considered passed if it receives a majority vote of those present at the meeting, unless otherwise required by law. Nothing in this Rule prohibits discussion by the Council on a topic prior to a motion being made if the Council feels preliminary discussion is advisable to assist in formulating a motion.
Rule 4. Objections to a motion.
a. Any member of the council may make an objection to a motion if he or she believes the motion is not in order. A motion is in order if it is made at a proper time in the proper format and does not violate any applicable rules of law, ordinance, or city policy, including city policies on decorum and civility, and is not made for the purpose of unduly delaying the proceedings.
b. An objection to a motion must be made immediately following the motion and at no other time. The objector does not need to be recognized by the presiding officer in order to voice their objection. The appropriate language for making an objection shall be substantially similar to "I object to the motion as being out of order, and call for a ruling by the presiding officer."
c. A motion may be objected to as not being made at a proper time if the motion was made by a person not called upon by the presiding officer to speak, or if it does not follow the agreed upon agenda for the meeting.
d. The presiding officer shall determine whether the motion is in order.
e. In determining whether the motion is in order, the presiding officer shall let the objector to the motion speak once explaining his or her position. Next, the presiding officer shall let the maker of the motion speak once to answer the concerns of the objector. Then the presiding officer shall make a formal ruling as to whether the motion was in order.
f. If the motion is ruled out of order, the motion shall not be considered. If the motion is ruled in order, the presiding officer shall open the motion for debate (if applicable).
g. The presiding officer's ruling may be appealed as provided in Rule 7.
Rule 5. Debate.
Generally only one motion may be considered at a time in debate. Once a motion has been made, the presiding officer shall restate the motion and open the motion for debate, if the motion is debatable. The presiding officer shall conduct the debate in accordance with the following:
a. For initial comments, all comments shall be limited to five minutes. For subsequent comments, all comments shall be limited to two minutes.
b. The maker of the motion shall be permitted to speak first on the issue.
c. To the extent possible, the debate shall alternate between proponents and opponents of the measure.
d. Everyone who wishes to speak on the issue must be permitted to speak once, before council members who have already spoken are permitted to speak again.
e. Council members shall avoid repeating points already made in the debate or other duplicative conduct that may delay the proceedings. Where a point has already been made, council members may affirm agreement or disagreement.
f. Generally only one motion may be considered at a time in debate. Debate may only be interrupted by a motion to amend the original motion, a motion to take a brief recess, a motion to withdraw the motion by the motion's maker, a motion to divide a complex question, a motion to defer consideration to a later date, a motion to refer an issue to committee, motion for the previous question, a motion to limit debate, or a motion for a call to order. When debate is interrupted by any of these motions, the interrupting motion shall be resolved prior to resuming debate.
Rule 6. Definitions of motions that may interrupt debate (secondary motions).
As explained in Rule 5, only certain motions may interrupt debate on a motion. These are called secondary motions. When a secondary motion is made, the presiding officer must follow the same procedures in Rule 3 to consider the secondary motion. A secondary motion must be resolved, either by being ruled out of order by the presiding officer or debated and voted upon by the council, before debate on the main motion can resume. Secondary motions may also be made outside of debate, where appropriate. For example, a motion to take a brief recess can be made before, during, or after a debate.
a. Motion to amend the original motion. The maker of the motion does not need to consent to a motion to amend. However, he or she may vote against the amendment or withdraw their motion via a motion to withdraw prior to any amendment being approved. Only two amendments may be made to an original motion to avoid confusion. The amendments should be voted on in reverse order, with the last amendment being voted upon first. To avoid confusion, complex language
should be put in writing. A motion may not be amended so substantially as to essentially reject the original motion, though different language may be proposed so as to entirely substitute for the original language.
The appropriate language for making a motion to amend shall be substantially similar to "I move to amend the motion by inserting between .... and...." or "I move to amend the motion by adding after..." or "I move to amend the motion by striking out..." or "I move to amend the motion by striking out... and inserting... " or "I move to amend by striking out the motion ... and substituting the following. "
b. Motion to take a brief recess is not a motion to adjourn or continue the meeting to another time or place. Instead, it is a motion to take a brief respite no greater than 20 minutes. If a motion to take a brief recess is granted, the presiding officer may set a time for the meeting to resume. In addition, the presiding officer is authorized to call for a brief recess on his or her own initiative, without a vote, to maintain order in the meeting.
The appropriate language for making a motion to recess shall be substantially similar to "I move to take a brief recess for XX minutes. "
c. Motion to withdraw a motion is not subject to debate, and it can only be made by the motion's maker before a motion is amended.
The appropriate language for making a motion to withdraw shall be substantially similar to “I move to withdraw my motion…”
d. Motion to divide a complex question may be used for complex items of business. It allows the council to break larger questions into smaller parts, which are considered separately.
The appropriate language for making a motion to divide a complex question shall be
substantially similar to "I move to divide the question into
parts. Part 1 shall be ….
and Part 2 shall be …..”
e. Motion to table or defer consideration to a later date is not subject to debate. It may be used to defer or delay consideration of a matter.
The appropriate language for making a motion to defer consideration shall be substantially similar to "I move to defer consideration of the main motion/this item until…”
f. Motion to refer an issue to committee is not subject to debate. It may be used to refer an issue to a city committee, such as the park board or planning commission, for their report. The motion should contain an expected receipt day for the report.
The appropriate language for making a motion to refer an issue shall be substantially similar to "I move to refer the main motion/this issue to the …….. committee for its consideration and recommendation. The committee should report back to the council in …. days/weeks.
g. Motion for call of the previous question is not subject to debate. It may be used only after at least 20 minutes of debate on a single motion or when all members of the council have been permitted to speak at least once on the motion. If approved by the majority, a vote must be taken on the motion under debate immediately.
The appropriate language for making a motion to call the previous question shall be substantially similar to "I move to call the previous question" or "I move for an immediate vote on this issue. "
h. Motion to limit debate is not subject to debate. It may be used to establish time limits for debate.
The appropriate language for making a motion to limit debate shall be substantially similar to "I
move to limit debate on this issue to ….. minutes per person " or "I move to limit council debate on
this issue to no more than ….. minutes total. "
i. Motion for a call to order is not subject to debate. It may be used to signal to the presiding officer that the councilmember feels the proceedings have gotten disorderly.
The appropriate language for making a motion for a call to order shall be substantially similar to "I move for a call to order by the presiding officer."
NOTE: Most secondary motions should not literally interrupt debate. They may not be made in the midst of the comments of a speaker duly recognized by the presiding officer, or silence the speaker's speech. To make a secondary motion, the maker must be called upon and recognized by the presiding officer. There are two exceptions to this rule—a motion for a call of the previous question and a motion for a call to order. These motions may be made at any time—even in a manner that interrupts a speaker. However, these motions should be made only in the rare instance where a meeting has become out of control, strayed from the agenda, or become disorderly.
Rule 7. Appealing procedural decisions of the presiding officer.
a. Any member of the council may appeal to the full council a ruling on order or procedure made by the presiding officer.
b. Procedure for appeals. An appeal is made by motion. No second is needed for the motion. The member making the motion may speak once solely on the question involved, and the presiding officer may speak once solely to explain his or her ruling, but no other councilmember may participate in the discussion.
Once both the maker of the motion and the presiding officer has spoken, the matter must be voted on by the council as a whole.
The appeal shall be sustained if it is approved by a majority of the members present, exclusive of the presiding officer.
Rule 8. Other special motions explained.
a. Motion to adjourn is not subject to debate. It may be used to suggest a conclusion to the meeting. The presiding officer may adjourn a meeting on his or her own initiative, without a vote, if necessary to maintain order.
The appropriate language for making a motion to adjourn shall be substantially similar to "I move to adjourn the meeting. "
b. Motion to go into closed session may be used to close the meeting pursuant to the Minnesota Open Meeting Law. When the motion is made, the basis for closing the meeting and the applicable law must be stated into the record. The presiding officer may also close the meeting on his or her own initiative, without a council vote, if closing the meeting is mandatory under the law or if directed by the city attorney.
The appropriate language for making a motion to go into closed session shall be substantially similar to "I move to close the meeting in order to consider ………
pursuant to .....
the Minnesota Open Meeting Law. "
c. Motion to leave a closed session may be used to conclude a closed session and return to an open meeting.
The appropriate language for making a motion to leave a closed session shall be substantially similar to "I move to open the meeting."
d. Motion to revive consideration of an issue may be used to request consideration of an issue previously tabled, deferred, or referred to committee at any prior meeting. The appropriate language for making a motion to revive shall be substantially similar to "I move to revive consideration of ………..previously tabled/deferred/referred to committee."
e. Motion to reconsider may be made no later than the next regular meeting of the city council following the meeting where the issue was originally considered and voted upon. It may be made only by a person on the prevailing side of an issue. In the event of a tie vote, those voting against the issue shall be considered the prevailing side.
The appropriate language for making a motion to reconsider shall be substantially similar to "I move to reconsider... "
f. Motion to rescind or repeal may be made at any meeting following the meeting where the issue was originally considered and voted upon. It may be made by any council member, whether or not he or she was on the prevailing side. It may not be made when prevented by law or where substantial reliance on the council's previous decision has occurred (for example, in the area of contracts or hiring/termination of employees).
The appropriate language for making a motion to reconsider shall be substantially similar to "I
move to rescind/repeal the council's previous action related to …. as stated in
resolution number…. "
g. Motion to prevent reintroduction of an issue for months is not subject to debate. It may be used to limit discussion of an issue that has been raised and/or moved for reconsideration several previous times.
The appropriate language for making a motion to prevent reintroduction shall be substantially similar to "I move to prevent reintroduction of this issue for …. months."
h. Motion to suspend the rules or to consider a motion informally should be used sparingly on issues likely to be uncontroversial. Complex motions and resolutions should still be put in writing. This motion may permit informal discussion of an issue (such as a roundtable discussion, brainstorming session, visioning session, etc.) where appropriate.
The appropriate language for making a motion to proceed informally shall be substantially similar to "I move that we suspend the rules and proceed informally in discussing the issue of ……”
Rule 9. Resolutions and ordinances.
Simple motions shall be used only for procedural and meeting matters. Substantive issues, such as the approval or disapproval of contracts, licenses, or permits; the censure of council members; the hiring, termination, or promotion of employees; the appointment of board, commission, and committee members; and the adoption of city policies, rules, and ordinances shall be by resolution. An exception to this general rule may be made in instances where significant documentation of the council's decision exists, rendering an additional resolution repetitive (for example, where a written contract spells out all the terms that would be listed in the resolution). All resolutions shall be written and numbered in a manner consistent with the city's record keeping policies.
The appropriate language for a motion for the adoption of a resolution shall be substantially similar to "I move to adopt the resolution numbered…. "
Rule 10. Robert's Rules not applicable.
These rules are designed specifically for Minnesota city councils. Further, these rules were drafted to be an appropriate level of regulation and formality for smaller governing bodies typically seen in Minnesota cities. Robert's Rules of Order is not assumed to apply or to supplement these regulations. Where a situation arises that is not addressed by these rules, the intent of these rules, as expressed in the preamble, should be effectuated by the presiding officer, in consultation with the city attorney.