It is the intent of these rules that the deliberations and actions of the Council be conducted and taken openly in order that the citizens may be fully informed, it being the finding of the Council that the citizens must be fully informed if they are to be intelligently advised as to the conduct of public business by the Council.
For the purpose of these rules, the following definitions shall prevail:
(a) A "meeting" is a gathering of a quorum of the membership of the Council for the purpose of receiving information relating to public business, or for discussion of public business, or for final action upon public business.
(b) A "regular meeting" is a meeting held pursuant to a schedule of such meetings as approved by the Council to enact ordinances and resolutions, conduct public hearings and otherwise discuss and act upon matters of public interest.
(c) A "special meeting" is a meeting held on the call of the Mayor or upon the request of a Councilmember to the City Manager with the concurrence of a majority of the members of the Council which shall be ascertained by the City Manager. A "special meeting" is held for the purpose of addressing matters requiring the immediate attention of the Council or for the purpose of addressing matters which the Council has determined are best addressed at a special meeting. When a special meeting is called, the Mayor or members of the Council shall specifically state the purpose of the meeting and the Council shall address only those matters for which the meeting was called.
(d) The "Council" shall refer to the City Council of the City of Port St. Lucie.
(e) "Councilman (Councilmen), Councilwoman (Councilwomen) and Councilmember(s)" shall refer to the Mayor and members of the City Council of the City of Port St. Lucie.
(a) Location. All meetings of the Council shall be held in city hall, unless the Council indicates another location, and shall be open to the public as required by law.
(b) Regular Meetings. The Council shall hold regular monthly meetings on the second and fourth Monday night of each month beginning with the second Monday in January of each year. Unless otherwise noticed, regular meetings shall commence at 7:00 p.m. When the day fixed for regular meetings falls on a day designated by law as a legal holiday, the meeting shall be held on the Tuesday following that Monday holiday or as otherwise designated by the Council.
(c) Public Notice. The Council shall give public notice of the schedule of meetings and shall state the dates, times and places for such meetings. Public notice of any special meeting or of any reconvened meeting shall be given before such meeting. Public notice shall be given by posting a copy of the notice at City Hall. The City shall supply copies of the notices of its meetings to any local newspaper of general circulation, or any local radio or television station that has filed an annual request with the City Clerk for such notice.
(a) Minutes identifying all matters coming before the Council and setting forth the action, if any, thereof, shall be promptly recorded and transcribed by the City Clerk and such records shall be open to public inspection.
(b) At the direction of the City Manager, the City Clerk shall prepare an agenda for all regular and special meetings. The agendas for all meetings will be prepared and made available to the public, the press and to each Councilmember on the Wednesday preceding each regular meeting providing, however, that when Council meeting dates have been changed due to holidays, or otherwise, the preparation and distribution of the agenda shall be adjusted accordingly. A copy of the agenda shall be posted at the entrance to the meeting room or place prior to the commencement of such meeting.
The Mayor shall preside at all meetings, if present, and if absent, the Vice-Mayor, and in his absence the Mayor Pro Tem of the Council shall preside.
All meetings of the Council shall be open to the public promptly at the hour set on the date of each meeting. The members of the Council, City Manager, City Clerk, and City Attorney shall take their regular stations and the business of the Council shall be taken up for consideration and disposition in substantially the following order:
(a) Meeting called to order.
(b) Roll call.
(d) Pledge of Allegiance.
(e) Public to be Heard.
(f) Proclamations and special presentations.
(g) Additions or deletions to agenda and approval of agenda.
(h) Approval of consent agenda.
(i) Second reading, public hearing of ordinances.
(j) Other public hearings.
(k) First reading of ordinances.
(m) Unfinished business.
(n) New business.
(o) Communications and committee reports.
(p) Councilmembers report on committee assignments.
(q) Determination of excused absences.
(r) Public to be heard, if necessary as determined by City Council at conclusion of Public to be Heard.
The above form the headings for the agenda for regular meetings. Staff and Council members desiring to have a particular subject matter placed upon the agenda may make a request therefor to the City Manager. Members of the public must have a Councilmember or the Mayor agree to sponsor their request before submission to the City Manager. All requests shall be accompanied by any information or documentation supporting the subject matter of the request and shall indicate the approximate length of time required for any presentation to the Council. Except in unusual circumstances, no item shall be placed on the meeting agenda until the subject has been referred for comment to whatever department, advisory board or combination of them that has an interest in the subject matter. Any such request shall be promptly considered and placed upon the agenda without undue delay.
(a) No ordinance shall be prepared for presentation to the Council unless directed by a majority of the Council, requested by the City Manager, or prepared by the City Attorney on his own initiative, unless otherwise provided by ordinance or by the City Charter.
(b) All ordinances and resolutions shall, before presentation to the Council, have been approved as to form by the City Attorney, or his authorized representative. All those instruments shall first be referred to the head of the department under whose jurisdiction the administration of the subject matter of the ordinance or resolution would be involved and shall be approved by the department head. If approval is not given, then the instrument shall be returned to the City Manager with a written memorandum of the reasons why approval is withheld. In the event the questioned instrument is not redrafted to meet a department head objection or the objection is not withdrawn and approval in writing given, then the City Manager shall so advise the Council and give the reasons advanced by the department head for withholding approval.
When a motion that is in order has been made and seconded, the Mayor formally places it before the Council by having the Clerk read the exact motion into the record. Thereafter the motion is open to debate.
Voting on all motions, resolutions and ordinances, except adjournment, shall be by "yes" and "no" upon call of the roll of members by districts. Any comments by Councilmembers as to the subject matter of a motion should be made during the debate thereon rather than at the time the Councilmember's vote is cast so that other members of the Council may have the benefit of those comments during the debate and before their vote is cast. The call of the roll shall be rotated as items come up for vote.
(a) The presiding officer shall preserve order and decorum at all meetings.
(b) When considering matters noticed for a public hearing, the applicable ordinances or resolution shall first be read by its title only. The presiding officer shall declare the public hearing open and receive comments from the public.
(c) During Council meetings, Councilmembers shall maintain order and decorum. Every Councilmember desiring to speak shall address the chair and, upon recognition by the chair, shall confine himself to the question under debate. Each Councilmember desiring to speak shall be recognized once before a Council member shall be recognized a second time. Every Councilmember desiring to question the administrative staff shall address his question to the City Manager or attending Department representative. During Council discussion, Councilmembers may also, with leave of the presiding officer, direct questions to others in attendance at the Council meeting. A Councilmember once recognized shall not be interrupted while speaking unless called to order by the presiding officer, unless a point of order is raised by another member, or unless the speaker chooses to yield to questions of another member.
(d) City staff and citizens must be recognized by the Mayor before speaking or asking questions. The purpose of this requirement is so that there is order and so that the recording equipment will properly record all comments made by individuals wishing to comment on a specific subject.
(e) All comments must be made from the podium which is located at the front of the City Council Chambers or by other reasonable accommodations and shall address the subject of the agenda item. Individuals that appear before the City Council are required to state their name and their address for the public record. The purpose of this requirement is so that they are properly reflected in the Council minutes and are available for future reference.
(f) At the discretion of the presiding officer or at the direction of a majority of the City Council, public comments will be limited to five (5) minutes per person so that all may be heard on the matter and the presiding officer, or his designee, shall in such instances monitor the timing and give the speaker a thirty (30) second notice prior to the expiration of the time allotted. The presiding officer may, at his discretion, or at the direction of a majority of the Council, extend the time allowed for an individual to speak or to allow a speaker a single opportunity to rebut comments made by another speaker. Any such rebuttal shall be limited to three (3) minutes. After receiving public comments as provided herein, the public hearing shall be closed and all further discussion on the matter shall be limited to members of the Council. One participant's allotted time for addressing the Council may not be donated to another participant.
(g) Those persons wanting to express his or her opinion on an agenda item noticed for public hearing without addressing the Council may do so on the appropriate color-coded participation card which the City Clerk shall make available, and when completed and returned to the City Clerk shall be made part of the public record of the proceedings. Individuals may express on the card that they are "FOR", "AGAINST", or "UNDECIDED" regarding the agenda item they reference on the card.
(h) As the Council considers agenda items, other than items noticed for public hearing, the presiding officer may, at his discretion, or at the direction of a majority of the Council, accept comments from those in attendance.
(i) When considering the first reading of an ordinance, the Council will accept comments from those members of the public who have indicated their desire to address the Council concerning such ordinance by signing up at the commencement of the meeting on the participation cards provided by the City Clerk.
(j) The Council shall follow the order of business as established by the agenda for that meeting; however, in the event a Council meeting continues past the hour of 11:00 o'clock p.m. it shall be the policy of the Council to complete, if possible, the item then under consideration and thereafter table all other agenda items scheduled for that meeting to a meeting to be scheduled by the City Council for the purpose of completing those agenda items or, if the Council is unable to convene such a meeting, then the Council shall table the remaining agenda items to the next immediately available Council meeting.
(k) The Council may reconsider an item, that is, bring back for further consideration, a motion which has already been voted on. To provide usefulness, and protection against abuse, the motion to reconsider can only be made by a Councilmember who voted on the prevailing side of the original motion.
Avenues for Citizens to Participate in Decision Making Process:
(a) Public to be Heard
(i) The City Council allocates 30 minutes at the beginning of each City Council meeting for citizens who wish to appear before the City Council to make a request of the City Council, voice a complaint or concern, express an opinion, or for some other type of recognition. The Mayor will divide the time equally between all who have signed up to speak; but in no case may a citizen speak longer than five (5) minutes.
(ii) If an item brought forward under Public to be Heard requires a longer presentation by the citizen or will require staff research or materials, the item may be scheduled by the Mayor for a future City Council meeting as an Agenda item. Citizens who signed up to address the City Council but were unable to do so because of the expiration of the thirty (30) minute limitation will be given an opportunity to address the City Council at the conclusion of the regular Council business agenda.
(iii) During this Item, citizens will not be permitted to address matters that are on the agenda for the regular portion of the meeting.
(iv) In order to speak during Public to be Heard, the appropriate color-coded participation card must be completed prior to the beginning of the City Council meeting and given to the City Clerk. The City Clerk will be responsible for making sure that cards are located outside the City Council Chambers 30 minutes prior to the Council meeting. Citizens can also pick up cards during business hours prior to a City Council meeting at the City Clerk's office. The City Clerk, or a person designated by the City Clerk, will be responsible for assisting individuals in completing the card and presenting the cards to the Mayor prior to convening the City Council meeting.
(v) During the Public to be Heard portion of the Council meeting, no dialogue will occur between Council members and the public. Council members may comment at the close of this item.
(b) Submission of Petitions to the City Council
(i) When submitting petitions to the City Council, the petition should state clearly its purpose. The person presenting the petition must provide it to the Mayor at the beginning of the presentation and state a brief overview of its purpose. If not submitted on an item already on the agenda, the City Council will accept the petition and may schedule the item for discussion on the next available agenda.
(ii) When petitions are received by the City by mail, a copy of the petition will be presented to the City Council and it will be placed on the next available City Council Meeting for discussion by the City Council.
(c) Citizen Agenda Items
(i) Agenda items proposed by citizens may be placed on the City Council Agenda under two (2) circumstances:
(A) An item brought before the City Council during Public to be Heard and is unable to be presented within the five (5) minute time frame or needs additional research or materials so that the City Council can properly respond, may be rescheduled by the Mayor for a future City Council meeting as an Agenda item.
(B) A citizen may request in writing to appear on the City Council Agenda and file such request with the City Clerk's office a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the City Council meeting. The letter shall state the nature of the request and ask that the item be placed on an upcoming City Council Agenda. A copy of the letter will be provided to the City Council on the day that it is received by Clerk's Office, but no action will be taken by the Clerk until said copy is endorsed or sponsored by at least one (1) council member or the Mayor. Thereafter, a copy of the letter will be provided to the proper City department so that research can be conducted and information provided to the City Council.
(ii) Agenda items are to be considered like all other items on the City Council Agenda. The format for consideration will be as follows:
(d) Public Hearings
Public Hearings are formal, legally-noticed hearings which the City Council conducts pursuant to State or Federal law. Some Public Hearings are advertised hearings for specific items scheduled on the City Council Agenda. Some hearings are quasi-judicial, while others are legislative in nature. Some public hearings have specific formats that must be followed and are established by law. All Second Readings of Ordinances are conducted as formal public hearings as a normal agenda item. In those cases, the Mayor will announce that this is a public hearing.
The applicant may have as much time as necessary to make the presentation before the City Council. City staff may have as much time as necessary to make a presentation on the subject before the City Council. As with all agenda items, persons wishing to address the issue should have completed an appropriate participation card prior to the beginning of the meeting.
The order of a Public Hearing will be as follows:
(e) Regular Agenda Items
The City Council provides an avenue for citizens to address all other agenda items. This allows citizens to speak in favor of, in opposition to, or ask questions about a normal agenda item. If the item is on Consent Agenda, the City Council may withdraw the item from the Consent Agenda. If the item is on Consent Agenda, the citizen will need to complete the appropriate color-coded participation card and give the card to the City Clerk prior to the beginning of the meeting. The Mayor will inform the City Council that a citizen has requested that an item be removed from the Consent Agenda. If the City Council desires to remove the item from the Consent Agenda, the City Council will need to remove the item for discussion purposes. If the item is removed from the Consent Agenda, the citizen is allowed to address the item. When an item is removed from the Consent Agenda, citizens will be allowed five (5) minutes to comment or ask questions about the item. If the citizen's questions cannot be answered quickly, the City Council may table the item and schedule it as a regular City Council Agenda item, or may take final action on the item.
If the item is on the non-Consent Agenda portion of the Agenda, citizens will be given up to five (5) minutes to comment or ask questions about the agenda item. The Mayor must recognize all who wish to speak and have signed participation cards.
The order of consideration of an agenda item that has been removed from the consent agenda and all other regular agenda items will be the same as a regular public hearing item, above.
(f) City Council Reports and Comments
At the conclusion of each City Council meeting, the City Council has scheduled an item where the Council reports on the various committees and groups on which they represent the City, and to make comments in general.
All documents submitted to the City Council become public records when given to the City Council for their consideration and shall be maintained by the City Clerk in accordance with the public records law.
The presiding officer shall preserve strict order and decorum at all meetings.
(a) In conducting the public's business, the City Council is committed to the principles of civility, honor, and dignity. Individuals appearing before the City Council are requested to observe the same principles when making comments on items and issues presented to the City Council for their consideration.
(b) Staff members and citizens are required to use proper language when addressing the Council or the audience. Staff members and citizens shall not use profanity or cursing, aggressive or threatening behavior when addressing the City Council or other participants. All comments are directed to the Mayor and not to individual members of the City Council or to the audience. No personal verbal attacks toward any individual will be allowed during the conduct of a City Council meeting. The Mayor or Chair may have individual(s) removed from the podium and/or City Council Chambers if such conduct persists after a warning has been issued.
(c) All members of the Council shall accord the utmost courtesy to each other, the City employees and the public members appearing before the Council and shall refrain at all times from rude and derogatory remarks, reflections as to integrity, abusive comments and statements as to motives and personalities. During Council meetings cell phones are to be turned off or silenced. Use of cell phones by Council members and City staff for talking, texting, emailing or otherwise will not be allowed during meetings while at the dais, except for emergency communications or while on breaks.
(d) In addition to the prohibitions in (c), above, Section 871.01, Florida Statutes, declares that any person who willfully interrupts or disturbs any assembly of people meeting for any lawful purpose shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, and may be arrested by police officers present. This may be done in the absence of the conduct being noted, or of the offender being called to order, by the presiding officer.
(e) In the case that any person is declared out of order by the presiding officer and ordered expelled, and does not immediately leave the Council Chambers, the following steps shall be taken:
(i) The Mayor or chair shall declare a recess.
(ii) The person shall be approached by a police officer and advised that he has been ordered expelled.
(iii) In case the person does not remove himself from the area he may be placed under arrest for violation of Section 871.01, Florida Statutes, should the person continue to willfully interrupt or disturb the meeting.
(iv) In the event any person who is ordered expelled leaves the Council Chambers voluntarily and then returns to the same meeting, he is subject to arrest for violation of Section 871.01, Florida Statutes, should the person continue to willfully interrupt or disturb the meeting.
The City Manager shall, during all public meetings, have a uniformed certified law enforcement officer present.
Members of the City Council have the opportunity and responsibility to represent the interest of the City on various boards and committees that may, from time to time, be established. Participation in these boards and committees is an opportunity for the City to present points of view that are beneficial to the City and an opportunity to participate in decision making processes that may be of significant importance to the City. The standing committees presently established wherein Councilmembers participate are as follows:
(a) Treasure Coast Council of Local Government (TCCLG)
(b) Tourist Development Council (TDC)
(c) St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization (TPO)
(d) Council on Aging
(e) St. Lucie County Fire District
(f) Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC)
(g) St. Lucie County Chamber Board of Directors
(h) Roundtable of St. Lucie County
(i) Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities (TCRLC)
Each Councilmember shall be responsible to accept appointment to at least two (2) of these committees and, once appointed, shall attend duly called meetings of these committees and report back to the Council the activities of and actions taken by the respective boards and committees. The failure to fulfill committee responsibilities may result in censure against the Councilmember involved.
Three unexcused absences by a Councilmember during the current term of office of that Councilmember from meetings of the City Council, including regularly scheduled meetings and special meetings duly called and noticed, shall constitute grounds for forfeiture of the said Councilmember's office pursuant to Section 3.02 of the Charter of the City of Port St. Lucie. The City Council, at the conclusion of each meeting, shall review any reasons or excuses presented by a Councilmember related to that Councilmember's absence at the next preceding meeting and by majority of the Council determine whether that absence should be excused.
Members in attendance at a Council meeting must be present when votes are taken and must cast a ballot or, pursuant to Section 28.012, Florida Statutes, declare that there is, or appears to be, a possible conflict of interest according to Florida law and thereupon comply with the disclosure requirements of Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes.
Members of the Council must at all times recognize that their actions, both public and private, may reflect upon the Council as a whole and further may reflect upon the City of Port St. Lucie. Conduct unbecoming of a public official may result in appropriate action taken by the City Council including, pursuant to Section 3.02 of the Charter of Port St. Lucie, forfeiture of the office of Councilmember.
The Council may, at any time, waive all or a portion of these rules of procedure during the course of a meeting. Provided, however, that any such waiver shall only be done upon a motion and majority approval of the waiver by members of the Council present and voting.