[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the City of Taunton 10-23-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Regular meetings of the Municipal Council shall be held at 7:00 p.m. on each Tuesday within the chambers of the Taunton Municipal Council or on such other evening in the week or at such other location as shall be fixed by a standing order of the Municipal Council.
Special meetings of the Municipal Council may be called by the Mayor, the President of the Municipal Council, or by the City Clerk upon written request signed by three members of the Municipal Council, by causing notice to be sent by the City Clerk to each member. Any special meeting called pursuant to this rule shall require that notice be sent to each member of the Municipal Council at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. Special meetings of the Municipal Council may be called upon less than 48 hours' notice in the case of an emergency and with the consent of 2/3 of all the members.
The original of any message, communication, ordinance, resolution, vote or other measure to be considered by the Municipal Council shall be delivered to the office of the City Clerk before 2:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding any meeting of the Municipal Council. Such submission is a prerequisite to any item's consideration at such meeting. Notwithstanding the above, any member of the Municipal Council may submit any communication that was not included within the agenda.
It shall be the duty of the City Clerk to prepare and cause to be printed for each meeting a listing of all matters submitted.
The Mayor, when present, shall at the hour appointed for the meeting call the members to order and, a quorum being present, shall cause the records of the preceding meeting to be read.
In the absence of the Mayor, or at his or her request, the President of the Municipal Council shall preside, and in the absence of both, the most senior member then present shall preside as Chairperson Pro Tempore. If the Chairperson Pro Tempore is unable to preside, the most senior member present shall preside.
The Presidency of the Municipal Council shall rotate on a yearly basis and the selection shall be made at the first regular meeting in January of each new year. The President of the Municipal Council shall be the most senior member of the Municipal Council who has not yet served as the President of the Municipal Council. Seniority shall not be based upon consecutive terms on the Council but by total number of years served. In the event that two or more members have equal seniority, the President shall be chosen by alphabetical order. No person shall serve a second term as the President of the Municipal Council until all members have served one term.
Whoever presides over the meeting of the Municipal Council shall preserve decorum and order, may speak to points of order in preference to members, and shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the Municipal Council by motion, regularly seconded, and no other business shall be in order until the question on the appeal shall have been decided. He or she shall declare all votes, but if any member doubts the vote, the Chairperson without further debate upon the question shall require the members voting in the affirmative and negative, respectively, to indicate by a show of hands until they are counted, and he or she shall then declare the result, but no such declaration shall be made unless a quorum of the Municipal Council shall have voted.
In the absence of the Mayor and President of the Municipal Council, the Chairperson Pro Tempore, and in his or her absence the senior member present, shall call the Municipal Council to order.
The City Clerk shall attend and keep the records of all the meetings of the Municipal Council, record the names of the members present, and have the care and custody of the City records and of all documents, maps, plans and papers appertaining to the proceedings of the Municipal Council, when no other provision is made therefor. He or she shall, whenever requested by the Mayor or President, read such ordinances, orders, resolutions, petitions, or other papers as may be presented, for the information of the Municipal Council. The City Clerk shall prepare notices and summonses upon members of the Municipal Council, and the Clerk of Council Committees shall prepare notices and summonses upon members of the various committees thereof when so directed by the Chairperson of a committee or other lawfully authorized person, and the expenses incidental to the preparation of such notices and summonses and the delivery and service thereof shall be paid by the City Clerk.
In the absence of the City Clerk the Assistant City Clerk shall act, and in the absence of both a Clerk Pro Tempore shall be chosen by the Municipal Council who shall be sworn to the faithful performance of his or her duties.
At every meeting of the Municipal Council, unless otherwise determined by a majority of the members present, the order of business shall be as follows:
Calling the roll of members.
Reading of the records.
Communications from the Mayor.
Communications and reports from City officers.
Presentation of petitions, memorials and remonstrances.
Reports of committees.
Unfinished business of preceding meetings.
Notices, orders or resolutions.
Every member when about to speak shall respectfully address the Chairperson, confine himself or herself to the question under debate and avoid personalities. The member who has the floor shall address the Municipal Council through the Chairperson and shall not directly address any other member. A member in debate shall not mention another member by name but may describe him or her by some designation intelligible and respectful.
When two or more members raise their hands or indicate in another fashion at the same time, the Chairperson shall name the member who shall be first heard. Any decision of the Chairperson pursuant to this rule is appealable by the Council.
When a question is under debate the Chairperson shall receive no motion except to adjourn, to lay on the table, to take from the table, the previous question, to postpone to a day certain, to commit, to amend, or to postpone indefinitely, which several motions shall have preference in the order herein stated. The motion to adjourn, motion to lay on the table, motion to take from the table, motion to suspend the rules, point of information, point of order, and the previous question shall be decided without debate, but on all other questions or motions, 30 minutes shall be allowed for debate, and no member shall occupy more than three minutes.
A motion to adjourn shall be in order at any time except on an immediate repetition or pending a verification of a vote.
No motion or proposition of a subject matter different from the one under consideration shall be admitted under the color of an amendment. Any motion, order or resolution which in the opinion of the presiding officer does not have a direct bearing on the business of the Municipal Council, or which has been previously debated and acted upon in the current year, shall be referred to the Committee of the Whole and shall not be further considered by the Council except upon report by that Committee. There shall be no appeal from the decision of the Chairperson hereunder, and this rule shall not be subject to suspension.
The Committee of the Whole may report that any motion, order or resolution, so referred to it, is out of order for the reasons stated above, and its report shall be the final disposition of the matter, subject to an appeal. Such appeal shall be governed by the same provisions as those governing appeals from rulings of the presiding officer.
Every motion shall be reduced to writing if requested by the presiding officer or any three members of the Council.
On all questions and motions the Chairperson shall take the sense of the Municipal Council by yeas and nays, whenever any six members present shall so request by moving the previous question or when no member wishes to speak on the question or motion. Upon a request by six members that the previous question be ordered, the Chairperson shall, without further debate upon the question, require the members voting in the affirmative and negative, respectively, to indicate by a show of hands. No motion on the previous question shall be in order until all Councilors, who so desire, have spoken at least once on the question or motion.
The Chairperson shall propound all questions in the order in which they are moved, unless the subsequent motion shall be previous in its nature, except that in naming sums and fixing times, the largest sum and the longest time shall be first put.
After a motion is stated or read by the Chairperson it shall be deemed to be in possession of the Municipal Council and shall be disposed of by vote, but the mover may, by unanimous consent, withdraw it at any time before a decision or amendment.
Any member may require the division of a question when the sense admits it.
No rule or order of the Municipal Council shall be suspended unless 2/3 of the members present consent thereto, by roll call.
Voting by roll call shall proceed alternately from Number 1 seat to Number 9 seat, and from Number 9 seat to Number 1 seat, when the roll is called by the City Clerk.
All incidental questions of order arising after a motion is made for the previous question shall be decided without debate except on the appeal, and on such an appeal no member shall be allowed to speak more than once without leave of the Municipal Council.
No member speaking shall be interrupted by another but by rising to a point of order for explanation. No member shall be interrupted while speaking but by a call to order. When a member is called to order he or she shall immediately relinquish the floor, and the Municipal Council, if appealed to, shall decide in the case without debate, and if the decision is against the member, he or she shall not be permitted to speak, unless by way of excuse for the same, until he has made satisfaction.
No member shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a financial or private interest, direct or indirect, which is in conflict with the proper discharge of his or her official duties. A member who has a direct or indirect financial or other private interest, distinct from the public interest, in any proposed legislation shall publicly disclose, on the official record of the Council, the nature and extent of such interest, and upon so doing shall be excused from voting on said question.
Every member, except as above, who shall be on the Municipal Council when a question is put shall vote, unless the Municipal Council for special reason excuses him or her.
The question having been taken, it shall be in order for any member to move reconsideration thereof at the same meeting, or any member may give notice of his intention to move a reconsideration at the next regular meeting, and if such notice is given, no subsequent motion thereupon to reconsider the pending question shall be entertained, but no more than one motion for the reconsideration of any vote shall be permitted.
All communications to the Council that are two pages, eight inches by 11 1/2 inches, or less in length shall be read unless a majority of the Council dispenses with said reading. Attachments to the main letter need not be read.
The seats of the Municipal Council shall be numbered and assigned by lot at the organizational meeting of the Municipal Council which shall be the first meeting of a duly seated and newly elected Municipal Council; no member shall change his or her seat but by permission of the presiding officer.
All standing committees shall consist of between three and nine members.
The role of each committee shall be to provide a forum for in-depth review and analysis of all City departments, boards, and agencies, and to provide a means for residents of the City of Taunton to address their concerns with regard to services provided by the City of Taunton.
Committees shall focus upon public policy, efficiency of service delivery, and cost containment, it being the goal of City government to provide appropriate services while ensuring that public moneys, which derive from our citizenry, are spent wisely and cautiously.
Each committee shall recommend such changes in the ordinances or statutes as will provide the greatest necessary services for the tax moneys expended.
There shall be appointed standing committees as follows:
Committee of the Whole (nine members), which shall concern itself with any litigation involving the Municipal Council and all other matters referred to it. The Committee shall exercise general oversight over the office of the Mayor.
Finance and Salaries (three members), which shall exercise general oversight with respect to revenues and expenditures of the City of Taunton and all other component units with the exception of the budget for the Taunton School Department. The Committee may report to the Council the cost of the implementation of any order, ordinance, program or other initiative pending before the body and shall make such report whenever requested by another committee or directed to do so by the Council, and shall have referred to it all matters concerning appropriations, the City budget, expenditures and loans, and, further, no appropriation, budget expenditure or loan shall be voted out of Committee except upon a majority vote of its members. The Committee shall exercise oversight with respect to the Assessing, Auditing, Collector, and the Treasury Department.
Department of Public Works (five members), which shall concern itself with any matters that are within the purview of the Department of Public Works. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Department of Public Works.
Public Property (five members), which shall concern itself with any matters relating to or affecting all public buildings or other public property. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Building Department.
Fires and Wires (three members), which shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Fire Department.
Police and License (three members), which shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Police Department. The Committee shall concern itself with any matters that relate to the granting, review, renewal or revocation of licenses granted by the City. The Committee shall concern itself with transportation policies for the City, including issues related to parking, traffic flow on City streets, and hackney/jitney licenses.
Elderly Affairs and Human Services (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with the provision of services to elderly persons and the special problems of aging, including personal safety, access to health care, the promotion of independent living, home health services, nutrition and transportation. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Human Services Department.
Arts, Humanities and Tourism (three members). The Committee shall also concern itself with charitable issues relating to the City and City employees and the encouragement of the arts and humanities within the City. The Committee shall exercise general oversight over the Taunton Cultural Council.
Ordinances and Enrolled Bills (three members), which shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Law Department, the City Clerk, Department of Human Resources, and workers' compensation and group insurance matters. The Committee shall concern itself with organization and structure of City government, including departmental fees and charges. The Committee shall have referred to it all proposed ordinances and special laws affecting the structure, duties, and responsibilities of all City departments, agencies, and commissions.
Needs of the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with all energy and utility related issues that arise within the City.
Youth and Recreation (five members). The Committee shall concern itself with the provision of services to children and adolescents in Taunton. The Committee shall work to strengthen cooperation among City, state and private agencies engaged in providing youth services and to expand support for public and private youth activities and programs.
Economic Development and Technology (five members). The Committee shall concern itself with the physical and economic development of the City, job training and opportunities stemming from new and planned development, public policy involving housing issues, the relationship of the City to the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) and other regional and state planning agencies, and the effect of large-scale development on neighborhoods and the people of Taunton. The Committee shall also concern itself with telecommunications, new technologies, information technology, computer technology and the internet. The Committee shall explore ways for all City departments to become more effective and efficient in the use of computer technology for the benefit of residents of the City. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Information Technology Department, the Industrial Development Department, the Mayor's Office of Community Development, the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, and the City Planner.
Needs of the Airport (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with transportation and use issues involving the Taunton Municipal Airport.
Zoning (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with the zoning ordinances of the City.
Public Health and Environmental Affairs (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with the public health issues of Taunton residents, including the impact of industry on public health. The Committee shall also concern itself with the natural resources of the City, including wetlands. The Committee shall involve itself with all matters relating to the problems of air, land and water pollution and open space conservation. The Committee shall also concern itself with the issues relevant to natural disasters occurring in the City of Taunton.
Solid Waste (five members). The Committee shall concern itself with recycling and other resource recovery efforts and protection from improper storage, transportation and disposal of wastes, and especially hazardous and infectious wastes. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the operation and management of the Taunton Landfill.
Americans with Disabilities Compliance (three members). The Committee shall concern itself with achieving compliance with the state and federal guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Committee shall exercise general oversight with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator and the Taunton Commission on Individuals with Disabilities.
Golf Course Commission representative (one member). The Council member shall attend meetings of the Golf Course Commission and shall concern himself or herself with the efficient management and operation of the John F. Parker Municipal Golf Course.
Heart of Taunton representative (one member). The Council member shall be the Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Development and Technology. He or she shall attend meetings of the Heart of Taunton and shall concern himself or herself with the development of a vibrant business climate for downtown Taunton.
All committees shall be elected by the Municipal Council. At the organizational meeting of the Municipal Council, the Chairperson Pro Tempore shall preside. The Clerk of Council Committees shall establish a ranking of seniority for members of the Council. Seniority shall not be based upon consecutive terms on the Council but by total number of years served. In the event that two or more members have equal seniority, the ranking shall be established by alphabetical order.
Once the ranking has been established, each Councilor shall choose his or her committee assignment. The first name on a given committee shall be the Chairperson. The second name on the committee shall be the Vice Chairperson. The selection shall continue until all positions on the respective committees have been assigned.
No person may serve as the chairperson of a committee of the Municipal Council for a period in excess of four consecutive years.
Meetings of committees may be called by the Chairperson or by the Clerk of Council Committees upon the written request of two members of the committee. If the Chairperson fails to call a meeting of a committee within 10 days from the time a subject has been referred to it, any two members may call such meeting.
No meeting of any committee shall be called upon less than 48 hours from the time the Clerk of Council Committees shall have mailed the notices or dispatched them by special messenger. The Clerk of Council Committees, upon the scheduling of a committee hearing, shall promptly post a record of the time, place and subject matter of such hearing and shall cause a written notice thereof to be delivered to all Councilors.
The Chairperson and members of the committee shall speak and question witnesses for not more than 10 minutes at a time, provided that the sponsor(s) of the various committee proposals shall be given an opportunity to make the initial presentation.
The Taunton Municipal Council hereby recognizes that in the performance of its official duties as representative leaders of the community it must at all times conduct itself in such a manner as to generate respect for City government and its citizens. Accordingly, its shall be a rule of the Taunton Municipal Council that all invited guests, department heads and advisers shall be treated by each and every Councilor with courtesy and respect at all times whether in agreement or disagreement with the views or recommendations they may make.
If a Councilor engages in conduct that violates this rule he or she shall be ruled out of order by the Chairperson of that committee and shall relinquish the floor. If the Chairperson of any Committee engages in conduct that violates this rule as determined by the members present at the meeting, he or she shall be asked to step down as Chairperson until he or she can conduct himself or herself in compliance with the code of conduct rule.
Committees shall cause records to be kept of their proceedings in books provided by the City for that purpose. No committee shall act by separate consultation, and no report shall be received unless agreed to in committee actually assembled.
It shall be the duty of all committees to which a subject may be specially referred to report thereon within three weeks from the time such subject is referred to them, or at the next meeting thereafter, or to ask for further time. Any and all reports of committees to be considered by the Municipal Council must be in writing prior to acceptance. The committee Chairperson shall sign the report. The Chairperson must distribute the committee report to all members of the committee for review, and the reports must be submitted to the City Clerk by 2:00 p.m. on the Friday prior to the next scheduled Council meeting.
No committee shall sit during the meeting of the Municipal Council without special leave. A committee may sit immediately prior to the meeting of the Municipal Council and immediately thereafter. Any and all committee meetings that are convening at the appointed time of the Municipal Council meeting shall recess for the commencement of the Municipal Council meeting.
Committees may sit on any day selected by the Chairperson of the committee or by the selection, in writing, of two members of the committee.
All petitions for appointments that are made upon nomination of the Mayor and confirmation of the Municipal Council shall, when received, be referred to the Mayor.
The confirmation of the appointment of the City Solicitor may be, and all other appointments shall be, deferred until the next regular meeting of the Municipal Council after such appointments are made.
No appointment shall be deemed to be in the hands of the Municipal Council unless the Mayor shall have caused to be placed on the desk of each member, at the beginning of the meeting, the name of the person to be appointed and the office.
No Chairperson of any committee or board shall audit or approve any bill or account against the City for any supplies or services which shall not have been ordered or authorized by the committee or board, except as provided by law.
In all votes which express anything by way of command, the form of expression shall be "ordered," and when the Council expresses opinions, principles, facts or purposes, the form shall be "resolved."
Every ordinance which shall be introduced into the Municipal Council shall be referred to the Committee on Ordinances and Enrolled Bills, before action is taken thereon, and shall contain a number which shall be assigned to it by the Clerk of Council Committees. The draft of every new ordinance to be reported to the Municipal Council by the Committee on Ordinances and Enrolled Bills, whether reported by a majority or a minority of that Committee, shall be first submitted by the Committee to the City Solicitor for examination and approval as to form and legal character. The City Solicitor shall forthwith examine the same, and if he disapproves of the form and legal character thereof, he shall thereupon signify his disapproval thereon and return the same to the Committee, and if he approves of the form and legal character thereof, he shall signify his approval thereon and transmit the same to the City Clerk, who shall cause the same to be printed in the usual form of printed ordinances and shall mail a printed copy thereof, showing thereon the approval of the City Solicitor, to the Mayor, the City Solicitor and to each member of the Municipal Council, at least three days before the meeting at which the report is to be offered. If, after the draft of a proposed ordinance has been returned to the Committee by the City Solicitor disapproved, and after further consideration the Committee or a minority thereof decide to report the ordinance to the Municipal Council unchanged, the draft shall thereupon be filed with the City Clerk, who shall cause the same to be printed and printed copies showing thereon the disapproval of the City Solicitor mailed to the Mayor, City Solicitor, and each member of the Municipal Council in the same manner hereinbefore provided for ordinances approved by the City Solicitor.
No ordinance or substitution of an ordinance may be adopted at the meeting at which it is submitted. This rule may only be suspended with unanimous consent.
Every ordinance and all resolutions and orders which impose penalties or involve the raising, appropriation or expenditure of money shall have two separate readings before they shall be finally passed, and no ordinance, resolution or any such order shall have more than one reading on the same day, except under the suspension of this section.
Every ordinance shall pass through the following stages before it shall be considered as having received the final action of the Municipal Council: first reading, second reading - passage to be enrolled, and passage to be ordained. After its passage to be enrolled, the ordinance shall be enrolled by the Clerk, and if the ordinance has been amended during any reading then the ordinance shall be duly examined by the Committee on Ordinances and Enrolled Bills, and upon report of such Committee that it is truly and properly enrolled, the question shall be upon its passage to be ordained. Any ordinance shall be considered to be enrolled and so reported by the Committee on Ordinances and Enrolled Bills if the same shall be in print and found by the Committee to conform to the draft as passed to be enrolled. If the ordinance has not been amended during any reading, the question shall be upon its passage to be ordained without a subsequent examination by the Committee on Ordinances and Enrolled Bills. An ordinance shall not be amended after its passage to be enrolled but may be rejected at any stage of its progress.
Whenever an ordinance, order, resolution or vote shall be passed by the Municipal Council which is required by law to be presented to the Mayor, the City Clerk shall present the same after its passage without unnecessary delay and shall enter upon the record of the Municipal Council the day upon which the same was presented and approved.
Unless inconsistent with any provision of these rules, the proceedings of the Council shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, current edition.
It is the intention of these rules that they be passed as ordinances of the City of Taunton. If any amendments to the rules are proposed, such amendments shall be subject to any and all rules regarding the passage of ordinances.