Pomp and Policy on City agenda Monday

While the biennial reorganization meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Alcazar Room at City Hall is largely ceremonial — there is work to be done, as well.

The outgoing commission will be certifying the election of Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr. and Commissioner William Laverne Leary. The re-election of Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline was certified after she received more than 50 percent of the vote cast in a three-way contest during the August primary.

The swearing-in will be followed by the new commission’s review and approval of its policies and procedures.

City Commission Policies and Procedures
A ten-page resolution to be reviewed by the reorganized City Commission Monday outlines “Operating Policies, Rules, and Procedures of the City of St. Augustine City Commission.”

Order of business
First up is the agenda, opening with the roll call, invocation and pledge of allegiance, modification of agenda, approval of minutes, proclamations, and recognitions.

Next, to accommodate the public interest, appeals and ordinances and resolutions requiring public hearings, followed by general public comment and presentations. These allow the public to be heard early in the meeting. Public comments are limited to three minutes, while general presentations – allowed through request by a commissioner – have a 15 minute limit.

Resolutions and Ordinances not requiring public hearing are next. Here is where commissioners consider new ordinances on first reading, for passage to second reading and public hearing at a later meeting, and resolutions, which do not require public hearing.

Staff reports and presentations are next, followed by items by the city clerk, city attorney and city manager – the three city officials elected by the City Commission.

The city manager presents commissioners with the consent agenda. This includes items that commissioners have individually reviewed – generally housekeeping items, but the city manager reads the titles and a commissioner can ask for discussion of any item.

Wrapping up the agenda are comments by the mayor and commissioners.

Rules of procedure
“City Commission meetings are formal governmental meetings conducted to transact public business. In conducting the public’s business, the City commits to the principles of civility, honor and dignity. Individuals are requested to observe the same principles when making comments on items and issues presented to the City Commission for its consideration.”
This statement in the Rules of Procedure sets the tenor for City Commission meetings.

Among the rules:
Of course, cell phones must be muted, and audio/video equipment that might obstruct a view of the commission is not allowed forward of the back row unless approved by the city manager.

Commissioners are not supposed to speak more than twice on one question without approval of the mayor, nor more than once until the other members have had the opportunity to speak. They should also be limited to ten minutes on one occasion, but the mayor can extend the time for five minutes.

A commissioner can request, with the mayor’s approval, comments from the public at any time.

Commission meetings are governed by Roberts Rules of Order.

Requests to be on the agenda must be filed in writing by 5 p.m. the Tuesday before a regular meeting. Generally, commissioners and the public will contact the city manager first to address a concern.

Any commissioner can sponsor a proclamation, which is issued in the name of the City Commission and signed by the mayor. Proclamations not presented at City Commission meetings are reported by the city clerk at the next commission meeting.

The city manager prepares meeting agendas. Public requests to be on the agenda go to the City Clerk Ali Ratkovic 904-825-4206, email: cosa@citystaug.com or aratkovic@citystaug.com or fax: (904) 825-1008.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons needing reasonable accommodation to participate in any city meeting should contact the city clerk 904-825-1007, seven days before the meeting.

Public Hearing Comment cards are available at the back of the meeting chamber. The speaker should indicate on the card the subject and whether general or specific to an agenda item.

Speakers address the commission from the lectern, giving their name and address for the public record and whether they are a resident or taxpayer of the City of St. Augustine. Speakers can’t donate speaking time to another speaker. Ten copies of any handout information should be given to the city clerk. To display a drawing or rendering, contact the city clerk before the meeting.

City Commission workshop sessions are for city commissioners to discuss subjects requiring detailed study or clarification. A decision to allow public comment requires the consensus of the commission.

The policy of the City Commission, in order not to discriminate among the many requests for aid, is that no direct contributions of public funds or direct contributions of goods or services will be made by the City Commission to community organizations or groups.

City commissioners are limited to a maximum of $2,500 a year for individual travel or other expenses.

Citizen boards are appointed by the City Commission, and are composed of city residents, though the commission reserves the authority to make exceptions in the event of difficulty filling positions.

Applications for specific boards or a general willingness to serve can be filed with the city clerk at any time.

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