CLEARWATER – One item on the agenda for the Clearwater City Council’s April 14 work session was to review, and amend if necessary, the rules and procedures the council adopted for itself on April 4, 2013. That’s not as easy as it sounds because there are seven pages of rules and 32 pages of policies.
Also, although four of the current councilmembers were there when last year’s rules and procedures were adopted, former councilmember Hoyt Hamilton, who recently returned to the dais after winning the Seat 5 that Councilman Paul Gibson was forced to vacate because of term limits, was not.
The first rule governs the timing of the council’s meetings and work sessions. It says that meetings should be held in the Council Chamber of City Hall at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month. However, the council shall hold one regular night meeting on the third Thursday in July, and there will be no regular meetings on the third Thursday of December or the first Thursday of January.
“The day of the meeting may be changed by majority vote of the council,” the rules say.
Rule 2 defines a majority vote as three members, and Rule 3 requires that the City Manager, City Clerk and City Attorney, or their designated substitutes, be present at every meeting. Rules 4 and 5 describe the duties of the mayor and vice-mayor at council meetings.
Rule 6, which deals with the “order of business” at council meetings, has three numbered sections, and Section One has sub-sections lettered “A” through “L”, with Section F having eight subsections.
Other rules deal with such topics as changing rules, expenditure of funds, debate of motions, tie votes and rules of order and decorum. And Rule 11 says that any action taken by the Council can be rescinded by a majority vote of the councilmembers.
The policies cover a wide variety of subjects, including general administration, city employees, land development, recreation and legal matters.
The section dealing with city boards states that all boards should have “a balance of race, gender and geographic areas of the city” represented
“It is a policy of the city council to adopt a balanced budget for all funds,” another section explains. “The city will avoid budget and accounting practices that balance the budget at the expense of future budgets.”
“In order to maintain the city’s sidewalks and streets (including curbs and bridges,) a road millage will be designated first on functional and safety concerns,” the section on road millage explains. “Road millage may (also) be used for aesthetic repairs.”
Councilman Jonson suggested scrapping the current practice of having the mayor give the final comments at council meetings and returning to the former practice of allowing each councilmember to give three minutes of closing comments. Councilman Hamilton suggested moving the consent agenda closer to the beginning of meetings so people interested in items on it wouldn’t have to sit through lengthy discussions of items in which they have no interest.
In the end, City Clerk Rosemarie Call suggested that instead of voting on changes to the rules and policies at the April 16 council meeting, the matter be discussed further at the April 28 work session. The council decided to go along with that suggestion.