Town of Coventry, RI
Kent County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Section 3.01 Number; term; constituency.

[Amended 11-2-2010]
The Town Council shall have five (5) members, one (1) to be elected from, and by the electors of each of the five (5) districts of the town, for a term of two (2) years, or until their individual successors are elected and qualified.
At the general election to be held in November 2012 and every fourth year thereafter, three (3) members, one each from districts 2, 3, and 5, shall be elected, and at the general election to be held in November 2014, and every fourth year thereafter, two (2) members shall be elected from the remaining two (2) districts, each for a term of four (4) years.

Section 3.02 Commencement of term.

The term of a Council member shall begin at the first meeting of the Town Council to be held on the first Monday after the issuance of a certificate of election.

Section 3.03 Qualifications.

A member of the Town Council shall hold no other public office or employment in the service of the Town of Coventry, the State of Rhode Island, or the government of the United States, except as provided in section 15.01(f).
A member of the Town Council shall not be eligible for appointment to any paid office in the town during the term for which the member was elected to the Town Council.

Section 3.04 Forfeiture of office.

A Council member shall forfeit office if the member (1) lacks, at any time during the term of office, any qualifications for the office prescribed by this Charter, or by law; (2) violates any express provision of this Charter; or (3) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Section 3.05 Vacancy.

The office of Council member shall become vacant upon the Council member's death, a resignation in writing filed with the Town Clerk, a removal from office in any manner authorized by law, or a forfeiture of office. The vacancy shall be filled by a qualified elector from the same district.

Section 3.06 Filling vacancy.

[Amended 11-4-2014]
If a vacancy shall occur in the Town Council six (6) months or more prior to the next regular election, a special election shall be called by the Town Clerk in the manner prescribed by law to fill such vacancy. If, by the thirtieth day after the vacancy occurs, the Town Clerk shall have failed to call such special election, then the Board of Canvassers and Registration shall call such election to fill such vacancy within forty-five (45) days of the date of occurrence of such vacancy. If such vacancy shall occur less than six (6) months prior to the next regular election, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term by the remaining members of the Town Council. The vacancy shall be filled by a qualified elector from the same district. The vacancy shall be posted in at least three (3) forms of local media including the Town's website as well as notifying the local political parties in the town.

Section 3.07 Judge of election and qualification of members.

The Town Council shall be the judge of the election and qualification of its members, and of the grounds for forfeiture of the office. For that purpose the Town Council shall have power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and require the production of evidence.

Section 3.08 Presiding officer.

The Town Council shall elect from among its members a president and a vice-president, each of whom shall serve at the pleasure of the Town Council. The president shall preside at meetings of the Town Council. The president shall have the right to speak and vote as any other member. The vice-president shall act as president during the absence or temporary disability of the president.
The Town Council shall be recognized as head of the town government for all ceremonial purposes and by the R.I. Governor for purposes of military law but shall have no administrative duties.

Section 3.09 Declare state of emergency.

The president of the Town Council shall have the power and authority (1) to declare a state of emergency in the event of a disaster, catastrophe, other similar event, or imminent danger thereof which endangers the public peace, health, safety, welfare, and the protection of property of the inhabitants of the town and (2) to take such lawful action as the president deems necessary.

Section 3.10 Compensation.

The Council members shall each receive an initial annual salary of $4,500; an additional allowance of $1,000 shall be paid to the president of the Town Council for expenses.
The Town Council may, from time to time, fix the annual salary of each Council member and of the president of the Town Council; provided, however, that no such ordinance changing the salary of the Council members, or of the president of the Town Council, shall become effective during the current term of such Town Council. [Amended 6-13-2000]

Section 3.11 Quorum.

Three (3) members of the Town Council shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time and may compel the attendance of absent members in the manner and subject to penalties prescribed by the rules of the Town Council. No action of the Town Council, except as otherwise provided in the preceding sentence, shall be valid or binding unless adopted by the affirmative vote of three (3) or more members of the Town Council. Upon the request of any member of the Town Council, a roll call vote shall be taken on any matter, and the ayes and nays shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

Section 3.12 Regular meetings.

The Town Council shall meet regularly at least once in every month, and may meet more often, at such times and places as the Town Council may prescribe.

Section 3.13 Special meetings.

Special meetings may be held at the call of the president, or, in the absence of the president, at the call of the vice-president, or at the call of three (3) or more members. Notice of a special meeting shall be delivered to each member or left for the member at the member's home or place of business at least twelve (12) hours prior to the time fixed for the special meeting. Any member may waive the requirement of notice of a special meeting, and such waiver shall be entered in the record of the proceedings of such special meeting. The purpose of a special meeting shall be stated in the notice of the meeting, and no business shall be transacted at any special meeting other than that stated in the notice.

Section 3.14 Powers and duties.

All powers of the town shall be vested in the Town Council, except as otherwise provided by law or by the provisions of this Charter. The Town Council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed upon the town by law.
The Town Council shall be vested with the power to adopt, amend, and repeal ordinances for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety, welfare, and for the protection of persons and property; and with the power to provide for their enforcement by the enactment of appropriate penalties for the violation thereof.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Town Council shall have and shall exercise the following specific powers, subject to the provisions of the constitution, and laws enacted by the General Assembly in conformity with the powers reserved to the General Assembly.
The Town Council may enact, reenact, amend or repeal ordinances and resolutions:
(a) 
For zoning; a building code; a sanitation code; regulations for the platting and subdividing of land; regulations concerning trailers and mobile homes; and regulations concerning parking on town highways and also on town property.
(b) 
For the appropriation of money.
(c) 
For the levy of taxes and assessments.
(d) 
For the borrowing of money and the issuance of bonds, notes, or other evidence of indebtedness.
(e) 
For the purchase, sale, lease, or the acceptance of a gift or device, of real or personal property located within or without the corporate limits of the town; for ordinances concerning the holding, management, control, sale, lease and conveyance of such property.
(f) 
For the condemnation of land located within the town as permitted by the laws of this state.
(g) 
For the control and management of any fund which has been or, in the future may be, given to the town by gift, bequest, or in any other manner, in accordance with the terms of such gift as expressed by the donor, including, but not limited to, the H. N. Waterman Fund and the Isaac Fiske Fund.
(h) 
For the control and management of funds which have been or may be hereafter accepted by the town for the perpetual care of cemetery lots specified in the acceptance.
(i) 
For granting, suspending or revoking licenses and permits in accordance with law.
(j) 
For fixing the amount of official bonds of all officers of the town, who in the opinion of the Town Council shall be bonded, the premium of such bond to be paid by the town.
(k) 
For the establishment and operation of a personnel classification system, not inconsistent with any general or special act, or provision of this Charter; and, in accordance therewith, fix the compensation of the Town Manager, and fix the compensation and provide rules and regulations with respect to the hours of employment and vacations of all officers and employees of the town.
[Amended 11-2-2010]
(l) 
For the establishment and operation of any department, office or agency, in addition to those created by this Charter, which the Town Council may, from time to time, deem necessary to provide the services and functions not otherwise provided by the departments created herein. This provision is not to apply to elected officials.
(m) 
To appoint committees of the Town Council which may investigate and report on any matter referred to it and make recommendations thereon. No committee shall have any executive or legislative powers, and final action on all matters shall be determined by the Town Council as a whole.
(n) 
The Town Council may make investigations into the affairs of the town, and the conduct of any town department, office or agency. For this purpose it may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence. The Town Council shall have the power, by ordinance, to provide for the punishment of any person who fails or refuses to obey a lawful order issued in the exercise of the powers set forth in this section.
(o) 
No collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Coventry, including the School Committee, and any labor organization shall become effective unless and until ratified by majority vote of the Coventry Town Council.
[Added 11-2-2010]

Section 3.15 Procedure.

The Town Council shall determine its own rules and order of business.
The Town Council may act by rule, resolution or ordinance. In addition to the cases in which an ordinance is required by any specific provision of this Charter or by any applicable law, any action creating or abolishing any office or agency of the town government shall be by ordinance only.

Section 3.16 Ordinances.

[Amended 11-7-1978]
(a) 
Introduction. Every proposed ordinance, including an amendment to an existing ordinance, except an emergency ordinance, shall be filed with the Town Clerk by a member of the Town Council, not later than four (4) business days previous to the date of the meeting at which it is to be introduced. A copy thereof shall be posted by the Town Clerk in some conspicuous place in the town hall where it shall be accessible for inspection by the public. The Town Clerk shall forthwith provide each member of the Town Council with a copy of the proposed ordinance.
(b) 
First reading. Every proposed ordinance, other than an emergency ordinance, shall be read a first time by title at the meeting at which it is introduced and a summary shall be published in one (1) or more newspapers of general circulation in the town and in full on the town's official website and displayed in two (2) or more locations in conspicuous fashion until such time as the Council shall vote on the merits of such ordinance. No ordinance, except an emergency ordinance, shall be adopted by the Town Council at the meeting at which it is introduced but it shall be referred to the next subsequent regular or special meeting.
[Amended 11-8-2016]
(c) 
Mandatory public hearing. The Town Council, except for an emergency ordinance, shall hold a public hearing on every proposed ordinance after the proposed ordinance has been introduced and published in summary in one (1) or more newspapers of general circulation in the town and in full on the town's official website and displayed in two (2) or more locations in conspicuous fashion until such time as the Council shall vote on the merits of such ordinance. No action shall be taken on the ordinance until the conclusion of the public hearing. The Town Council, by majority vote, may amend or otherwise act on the proposed ordinance at the public hearing.
[Amended 11-8-2016]
(d) 
Ordinances in emergency. Enactments by the Town Council dealing with an emergency or emergencies may be adopted on the day of introduction, without a previous filing with the Town Clerk or publication thereof. The enactments shall contain a declaration of the existence of the emergency, and the declaration shall be conclusive as to the existence of such emergency. The enactments shall take effect upon passage. Such emergency ordinance shall be temporary and for the period of the emergency only. The ordinance may authorize departments, offices and agencies of the town government to act outside and beyond the usual requirement of ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations. The Town Council may by resolution declare the emergency ended.
(e) 
Enacting clause. The enacting clause of all ordinances shall be, "The Town Council of the Town of Coventry hereby ordains:"
(f) 
Recording. The Town Clerk shall record in full, in a properly indexed book kept for the purpose, all ordinances adopted by the Town Council.
(g) 
Publication. Every ordinance which imposes a penalty for the violation of its provisions shall be published in full by the Town Clerk on the town's official website and displayed two (2) or more locations in conspicuous fashion within one week of the adoption of the ordinance, for a period of not less than 20 days.
[Amended 11-8-2016]
(h) 
Codification. The Town Council shall, on or before November 1, 1974, and within every ten (10) years thereafter, arrange for the publication of all ordinances of general and permanent character and may arrange for supplements to be issued from time to time.

Section 3.17 Annual audit.

The Town Council shall provide for an independent annual audit of all town accounts by a certified public accountant or by the state bureau of audits and may provide for such more frequent audits as it deems necessary. The audit shall cover all books, accounts, and other evidence of the financial transactions of the town. The audit shall conform with generally accepted auditing standards, including all procedures necessary for the auditors to express an informed opinion of the financial condition of the town. A copy of the audit report each year shall be filed with the Town Clerk and shall be a public record.