City of Trenton, NJ
Mercer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Trenton 9-7-1967 as Ch. XXI of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the Rules of Council, 1962, and is hereinafter sometimes referred to as "the rules."
The following rules shall govern the Council and its meetings:
Governing Rules
Except as may be provided in the Charter, questions of order, the organization and the conduct of business of the Council shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order in all cases to which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with these rules.
Meetings; Council Conference
Regular meetings. The Council shall hold regular meetings on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 5:30 p.m., except that only one regular meeting shall be held during each of the months of July and August on a date to be fixed by the Council, in the preceding month of June for the July meeting and in the preceding month of July for the August meeting; provided, however, that when the day fixed for any regular meeting of the Council falls upon a day designated by law as a legal or national holiday, or upon a day when more than three members of the governing body are attending a state or national conference or convention, such meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day not a holiday. The time and location of any public meeting shall be subject to change whenever the City Council, by a majority vote, shall determine that a change in time or place of a public meeting shall be in the public interest and provided that adequate public notice of the time and place of such meeting shall be provided in accordance with state law. Unless otherwise determined by City Council, regular meetings of the Council shall be held in the Council chamber on the second floor of City Hall.
Special meetings. The Mayor, whenever (s)he deems it in the public interest, and upon request in writing of a majority of the Council, shall call a special meeting of the Council. The President of the Council may also call a special meeting whenever (s)he deems it necessary. A request by members of Council, Mayor or President of Council for a special meeting therefor shall state the time and purpose of the meeting. The Mayor or the President of the Council, as the case may be, shall deliver the call for a special meeting to the Clerk who shall forthwith deliver copies thereof to each member of Council at his/her residence or at such place as (s)he may designate in advance. No business except what is described in the call shall be considered at the special meeting. Except in case of emergency, special meetings may be called upon not less than two days' notice.
Adjourned meetings. An adjourned meeting shall be considered a continuation of the preceding meeting and the business of the Council shall be resumed where it was left at the last adjournment.
Council conference. The Council shall hold conferences at 5:30 p.m. each Tuesday preceding the regular meeting, or as otherwise provided by City Council's Annual Notice of Meeting Dates; provided, however, that when the day fixed for any conference of the Council falls upon a day designated by law as a legal or national holiday, or upon a day when three or more members of the governing body are attending a state or national conference or convention, such meeting shall be held on a day to be scheduled by the Clerk of the Council or cancelled.
[Amended 9-20-2018 by Ord. No. 18-46]
Docket review. On the Tuesday proceeding each Council meeting, the Council President, or the Vice President, or the Council President's designee if neither shall be available, shall make a review of the docket with the Business Administrator, the City Clerk and the Law Director and a representative designated by the Mayor. The Council President may remove an item from the Council agenda during docket review, for further study or information, provided that the removal of any items from the docket must be listed on the next regular scheduled Council meeting docket.
[Added 9-20-2018 by Ord. No. 18-46]
[Amended 9-20-2018 by Ord. No. 18-46]
All reports, communications, ordinances, resolutions, claims, contract documents or other matters to be submitted to the Council by the administration, at least 24 business hours prior to each Council meeting, shall be delivered to the Clerk, whereupon the Clerk shall immediately prepare a calendar of such matters together with such additional matters that (s)he may have to present, in conformity with the prescribed order of business as hereinafter provided and shall furnish a copy to each member of the Council. When required, (s)he shall furnish the Mayor, the Business Administrator and the City Attorney with a copy of the same prior to the Council meeting and as far in advance of the meeting as time for preparation will permit. All administration matters shall be presented to the Council by the Mayor, Business Administrator or a designee of either of them, provided that nothing herein shall limit the Charter power of the Council to require reports or to investigate. All ordinances or resolutions presented by members of Council shall be presented to the Council President for review, at least 24 hours prior to any agenda review meeting, before same are placed upon the docket.
The Presiding Officer
Election and duties. The Presiding Officer of the Council shall be the President, who shall be elected at the organization meeting for a term of four years.
[Amended 8-7-2014 by Ord. No. 14-32]
The Council may also elect a Council Vice President from among its members for a term concurrent with the Council President. The Council President shall designate the Council Vice President to act as the presiding officer whenever the Council President shall be absent from the municipality due to disability or other cause and prevented from attending a Council meeting. Only in that instance, the Council Vice President shall possess all the rights, powers and duties of the Council President.
No dual office holding: Mayor or Council President. Upon election of the Council President as Mayor, by majority vote of Council, to fill a vacancy in the office of Mayor, the Council President shall forfeit his or her position as Council President while retaining his or her seat on Council.
Bingo and raffles. The President of the Council is authorized to approve or disapprove bingo and raffle applications for and on behalf of the Council pursuant to state statute.
City Attorney
The City Attorney or such member or members of his/her office as (s)he may designate shall be available to the Council at all regular and special meetings. He/She, or his/her designee, shall draw ordinances and resolutions for any member of the Council when and as requested.
Call to Order; President; President Pro Tem
[Amended 8-7-2014 by Ord. No. 14-32]
The President shall take the Chair at the hour appointed for the meeting and shall immediately call the Council to order. In the absence of the Council President, the Council Vice President shall call the Council to order. In the absence of the Council President and Council Vice President, the Clerk shall call the Council to order. The Clerk shall then determine whether a quorum is present and in that event call for the election of a temporary President. Upon the arrival of the Council President or Council Vice President, the temporary President shall relinquish the Chair upon the conclusion of the business immediately before Council.
Roll Call
Before proceeding with the business of the Council, the Clerk or his/her designee shall call the roll of the members in alphabetical order, and the names of those present shall be entered in the minutes.
A majority of the whole number of members of the Council shall constitute a quorum. No ordinance, resolution or motion shall be adopted by the Council without the affirmative vote of the majority of all members of the Council; provided, however, that whenever a member of Council shall have disqualified himself for reason of conflict of interest, a resolution or motion shall be adopted by the affirmative vote of a majority of the nondisqualified members of the Council.
Should no quorum attend within 30 minutes after the hour appointed for the meeting of the Council, the President, or in his/her absence the Clerk or his/her designee, may thereupon adjourn the meeting until the next day, unless by unanimous agreement those members present select another hour or day. The names of the members present and their action at such meeting shall be recorded in the minutes by the Clerk.
Order of Business
[Amended 2-5-2004 by Ord. No. 04-6]
All regular and special meetings of the Council shall be open to the public. Promptly at the hour set for each meeting, the members of the Council and the Clerk shall take their regular stations in the Council chamber, and the business of the Council shall be taken up for consideration and disposition in the following order:
Roll call.
Pledge of allegiance.
Minutes of the previous meeting.
Unfinished business.
Communications and petitions.
New business (resolutions, ordinances, motions).
Hearing of citizens.
Reading of Minutes
Unless a reading of the minutes of a Council meeting is requested by a majority of the Council, such minutes when signed by the President and the Clerk may be approved without reading, and the yeas and nays shall be entered on the minutes. Upon the call of the roll, no member shall discuss or explain his/her vote; and the silence of any Council member who is present shall be recorded as an affirmative vote unless he/she states directly that he/she abstains. The minutes of each meeting shall be signed by the presiding officer and by the Clerk.
Rule XII
There shall be no standing committees of the Council, other than the committee of the whole. The rules of the Council shall govern the meetings of the committee of the whole so far as applicable. Special committees for legislative purposes may be appointed by the President pursuant to resolution. No special committee shall proceed to the consideration of any matter referred to it unless a majority of the members of the committee shall be present. All committee meetings shall be held at City Hall. No special committee shall report on a matter referred to it at the same meeting at which the reference is made, except by unanimous consent of the members of the committee.
Nominations and Appointments
Nominations submitted by the Mayor will be considered in committee of the whole and reported to the Council not later than the second next ensuing regular meeting. Any member of the Council may move a nomination. Within two days after confirmation or rejection of a nomination, the Clerk shall, in writing, notify the Mayor of that fact.
With respect to appointments to be made by the Council, any member of the Council may nominate as many candidates as there are offices to be filled. The Council will consider such nominations in committee of the whole, which will report to a regular meeting of the Council. Where there is a single office to be filled, the sense of the Council on the appointment shall be taken as to each nominee in alphabetical order, and the first nominee to receive a majority shall be deemed appointed. Where there is more than one office to be filled, such as on a board, commission or authority, the same procedure shall be followed with respect to each office separately until the total number of appointments to be made has been completed. In the discretion of the Chair, a group of nominations may be considered at once where there is no apparent division in the Council as to the nominees included in the group.
Rule XIV
Rules of Debate
Question under consideration. When a question is presented and seconded, it is under consideration, and no motion shall be received thereafter, except to adjourn, to lay on the table, to postpone or to amend, until the question is decided. These motions shall have preference in the order in which they are mentioned, and the first two shall be decided without debate.
As to the President. The President or such other member of the Council as may be presiding may move, second and debate from the Chair, subject only to such limitations of debate as are by these rules imposed upon all members, and shall not be deprived of any of the rights and privileges of a Council member by reason of being the presiding officer.
Getting the floor. Improper references shall be avoided. Every member desiring to speak for any purpose whatsoever shall address the presiding officer and, upon recognition, shall confine himself/herself to the question under debate, avoiding all personalities and indecorous language. A member may only speak once on the same subject but may speak to clear up a matter of fact or explain a material part of his/her speech, except that a member after moving a question may once again speak on the same subject.
Interruption. A member once recognized shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it be to call him/her to order or as herein otherwise provided. If a member while speaking is called to order, (s)he shall cease speaking until the question of order is determined by the presiding officer, and if in order, (s)he shall be permitted to proceed. Any member may appeal to the Council from the decision of the Chair upon a question of order, when without debate the Chair shall submit to the Council the question, "Shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?" and the Council shall decide by a majority vote.
Privilege of closing debate. The Council member moving the adoption of an ordinance or resolution shall have the privilege of closing the debate.
Civic comment. Members of Council who wish to speak during civic comment shall be limited to a period of 10 minutes' time.
[Added 9-20-2018 by Ord. No. 18-46]
Rule XV
Addressing the Council
Subject to the provisions of Rule XXI, any person may petition the presiding officer for leave to address the Council, which permission shall be granted only after a showing to the satisfaction of the presiding officer that the subject matter of the address deserves the time and attention of the Council, by oral communication on any matter over which the Council has control; provided, however, that notice is given to the Clerk 24 business hours in advance of the Council meeting, in order that the same may appear on the calendar of the Council.
Any person may orally petition the Council at any Council meeting for leave to orally address the Council at that meeting, which leave shall be granted only after showing to the satisfaction of a majority of the members of the Council present that the subject matter of the address deserves the time and attention of the Council.
Rule XVI
Manner of Addressing Council; Time Limit
Each person addressing the Council shall step up to the microphone, shall give his/her name and address in an audible tone of voice for the records, and unless further time is granted by the Council shall limit the address to 10 minutes. All remarks shall be addressed to the Council as a body and not to any person thereof. No person, other than members of the Council and the person having the floor shall be permitted to enter into any discussion, either directly or through a member of the Council, without the permission of the presiding officer. No question shall be asked a Council member except through the presiding officer.
By Council members. While the Council is in session, the members must preserve order and decorum, and a member shall neither by conversation or otherwise except as herein provided delay or interrupt the proceedings, the peace of the Council, disturb any member while speaking or refuse to obey the orders of the Council or its presiding officer.
By persons. Any person making impertinent or slanderous remarks or who shall become boisterous while addressing the Council shall forthwith be barred from further audience before the Council, by the presiding officer, unless permission to continue or again address the Council be granted by the majority vote of the Council.
Enforcement of Decorum
[Amended 2-5-2004 by Ord. No. 04-6]
A security officer shall be the sergeant-at-arms of the Council meetings. He, she or they shall carry out all orders and instructions given by the presiding officer for the purpose of maintaining order and decorum at the Council meetings.
Rule XIX
Ordinances, Resolutions, Motions and Contract Documents
Introduction. Ordinances may be introduced and adopted by title, except bonding or local improvement ordinances, which shall be read in full by the Clerk or his/her designee before consideration by the Council on second and final reading. Every ordinance after introduction and adoption on first reading shall be published in full, together with a notice as required by law, and publication shall be at least 10 days prior to the time fixed for further consideration for second and final passage. At the time and place so specified in such notice, all persons interested shall be given an opportunity to be heard thereon.
Prior approval by administrative heads of departments. All ordinances, resolutions and contract documents before presentation to the Council by the Mayor or the Business Administrator shall have been reduced to writing and shall have been approved as to form and legality by the City Attorney or his/her designee. Prior to presentation, all such documents shall have first been referred to the head of the department under whose jurisdiction the administration of the subject matter of the ordinance, resolution or contract document would devolve. Any statement of fact or representation submitted in support of any such document, resolution or ordinance shall be signed by the Mayor, Business Administrator or a designee of either of them.
Introducing for passage or approval. Ordinances, resolutions and other matters and subjects requiring action by the Council must be introduced and sponsored by a member of the Council, except that the Mayor may present under Rule III, ordinances, resolutions and other mailers or subjects to the Council, and any Council member may assume sponsorship thereof by moving that such ordinance, resolution, matter or subject be adopted in accordance with law; otherwise they shall not be considered. When a Council member assumes sponsorship of an ordinance or resolution, (s)he shall countersign the same in the space provided thereon.
All ordinances shall take effect 20 days after final passage and approval by the Mayor. Two-thirds of the Council may, however, declare an emergency by written resolution to reduce this twenty-day period, except the period for bond ordinances shall not be reduced.
Adoption. Ordinances other than bond and appropriation ordinances shall require four affirmative votes for adoption. Bond and appropriation ordinances shall require five affirmative votes for adoption.
Veto by the Mayor. Ordinances vetoed by the Mayor shall require five affirmative votes to override the veto.
Preparation. Ordinances amending any existing ordinances shall contain in brackets the part repealed, and the new part to be inserted shall be underscored.
Emergency resolutions. Resolutions creating emergency appropriations and budgetary transfers shall require five affirmative votes for adoption.
Any resolution or ordinance put forth by any Council member which has been defeated shall not be reintroduced for a period of one year following the vote on said ordinance or resolution.
[Added 9-20-2018 by Ord. No. 18-46]
Rule XX
Reports and Resolutions to be Filed with City Clerk
All reports and resolutions shall be filed with the City Clerk and entered in the minutes.
Rule XXI
A motion to adjourn shall always be in order and decided without debate.
Certification of Passage of Ordinances over Mayor's Veto
Whenever an ordinance has been vetoed by the Mayor and is passed by the Council over such veto in the manner provided by law, the City Clerk shall append to such ordinances a certification in substantially the following form:
"I hereby certify that the above ordinance adopted by the Council of the City of Trenton on the _____________ day of ___________, was vetoed by the Mayor of the City, and was passed notwithstanding the veto by the Mayor, on the _______________ day of _________________.
City Clerk."