Procedure for Meetings
It is the intent of the Board of County Commissioners to provide for the smooth and orderly functioning of the business of the Commission, boards and committees. As the County’s procedure calls for the Chairperson to set the Rules of Procedure, the following procedures are established for all Regular, Special, Emergency and Workshop Meetings of the Board of County Commissioners and for all public meetings of all boards and committees established or appointed by the Commission. These rules may be modified as circumstances dictate.
Regular, Special & Emergency Meeting Times
Regular meetings of the Commission shall commence at 9 A.M. Special meetings and Emergency meetings shall begin at the time provided in the notice. Public meetings of other boards and committees shall commence at the time determined by the Chairperson of the board or committee, or as required by Ordinance, Resolution, or law.
The purpose of a workshop meeting is to allow staff to make presentations and to allow questions by the Commission, board, or committee members. Public comment shall be allowed consistent with these Rules. Workshop meetings are noticed as Special Meetings and official action may be taken upon any of the items discussed at the workshop meeting and any of the items of official business that require immediate consideration and decision.
Chairman Presiding Officer Duties
The Chairperson of the Commission, board or committee shall preside at all meetings at which the Chairperson is present. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson shall preside. The presiding officer shall preserve strict order and decorum at all meetings. The maker of the motion shall repeat every motion and the Chairperson will announce the decision. A majority vote of the members present shall govern and conclusively determine all questions of order not otherwise covered. The Chairperson may vote on all questions, the Chairperson’s name being called last when a roll call is requested. In the absence of the Chairperson or in the event of the Chairperson’s inability to serve by reason of illness or accident or other reason, the Vice Chairperson shall perform the duties and functions of the Chairperson until the Chairperson’s resumption of duty.
Issues of Law or Matters of Procedure
The County Attorney shall advise and assist the Chairperson on issues of law and matters of procedure.
There shall be an official agenda for every public meeting, which shall determine the order of business conducted at the meeting. A portion of the agenda may be designated as a consent agenda, and all items contained therein may be voted on with one motion; except that any member may withdraw an item from the consent agenda, and it shall be voted on individually. Any departure from the order of business set forth in the official agenda shall be made only upon majority vote of the members of the Commission, board or committee present at the meeting.
Additions, deletions, or corrections to the agenda may be considered by the Commission, board or committee and adopted by the passage of a single motion. This shall include items of emergency. The agenda shall be prepared by the County Manager, or his designee. There shall be provided on the agenda an opportunity for the public to address the Commission, board or committee on any item on the agenda in addition to public hearings. Any person may submit a request to add an item to an upcoming agenda, by contacting any member or the County Manager.
Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition that is on the agenda before the Commission, board or committee. The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which official action is taken on the proposition if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that is during the decision making process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the official action is taken.
- A person wishing to speak shall approach the podium when the Chairperson calls for public comment.
- The person speaking shall first state their name and address.
- All remarks shall be limited to no more than three minutes, unless the Chairperson extends the time. Remarks shall be addressed to the Commission, board or committee, as a body and not to any specific member. Representatives of groups or factions on a proposition being considered may address the Commission, board or committee, rather than all members of such groups or factions, at meetings in which a large number of individuals wish to be heard.
- Any person shall be entitled to submit written comments for consideration by the Commission, board or committee on any item on the agenda and may indicate his or her support, opposition, or neutrality on a proposition, and may indicate his or her designation of a representative to speak for him or her or his or her group on a proposition. Written comments submitted shall be considered and entered into the record of the meeting.
The requirements governing citizen input are not required for the following actions:
- An official act that must be taken to deal with an emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or safety, if compliance with the requirements would cause an unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to act
- An official act involving no more than a ministerial act, including, but not limited to, approval of minutes and ceremonial proclamations
- A meeting that is exempt from s. 286.011
- A meeting during which the board or commission is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. This paragraph does not affect the right of a person to be heard as otherwise provided by law
- No person, other than members of the Commission, board or committee and the person having the floor, shall be permitted to enter into any discussion, either directly or through a member of the Commission, board or committee, without the permission of the presiding officer. No question shall be asked a member of the Commission, board or committee except through the presiding officer.
- No person who has made remarks shall be allowed to make additional comments except with the permission of the presiding officer. The Chairperson shall close the citizen’s input portion of the meeting upon the conclusion of the last speaker’s comments. No additional citizen’s input shall be allowed, except in specific response to questions by members of the Commission, board or committee, or if an extension of time for public comment is approved.
- Any person making slanderous remarks or who becomes boisterous while addressing the Commission, board or committee, shall be barred from making any additional comments during the meeting by the presiding officer, unless permission to continue or again address the Commission, board or committee is granted by the majority of the members present.
- Any person who becomes disruptive or interferes with the business of the Commission, board, or committee may be removed from the audience for the remainder of the meeting.
The following minimum standards shall apply to quasi-judicial proceedings of the Commission, board or committee, which may adopt additional procedures.
- Reasonable notice shall be provided in advance of the proceeding.
- The presiding Commission, board or committee shall be subject to all restrictions associated with ex-parte communications.
- At a minimum all parties to the hearing shall be entitled to the following:
- An opportunity to call and examine witnesses, who shall be sworn.
- An opportunity to introduce evidence;
- An opportunity to cross examine witnesses; and
- An opportunity to rebut evidence.
- The attorney for the presiding Commission, board or committee shall make rulings on any evidentiary issues presented.
- The presiding Commission, board or committee, or its attorney, may call and may question any witness, and shall make decisions based upon findings of fact.
- The Chairperson of the presiding Commission, board or committee, may order any person to appear at the hearing as a witness.
- A record of the hearing shall be compiled and preserved. The record must be in sufficient detail as to provide for judicial review, except that the County shall have no obligation to bear the costs to transcribe the hearing.
Unless otherwise provided by law, ordinance or statute, when the Commission, board or committee has finished discussion and is ready to vote, the Chairperson shall call for the vote, and there shall be no further discussion by any member voting. Each member shall vote yes or no,, and silence shall be considered a “yes” vote. When a matter is brought up for a vote on a motion to approve it and the motion fails, the status quo ante shall be maintained, and the matter shall be considered denied. Such a vote shall not preclude a subsequent motion at the same meeting to approve the motion with modifications.
Upon any roll call, there shall be no discussion by any member prior to voting, and each member shall vote yes or no.
Rules of Debate
The Chairperson may make or second any motion after relinquishing the Chair. The Chairperson shall not resume the Chair until after the Commission has acted upon the matter under consideration.
Getting the Floor
Every member desiring to speak for any purpose shall address the Chairperson and, upon recognition, shall confine discussion to the question under debate.
A member once recognized shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it is to call that member to order. If a member while speaking is called to order, the member shall cease speaking until the question of order is determined by the Chairperson; and, if in order, the member shall be permitted to proceed. Any member may appeal to the full Commission, board or committee from the decision of the Chairperson upon a question of order, whereupon without debate the Chairperson shall submit to the Commission the question, “Shall the decision of the Chairperson be sustained?” and the matter shall be resolved by a majority vote of those present at the meeting.
Privilege of Closing Debate
Any member may move to close debate and call the question on the motion being considered which shall be non-debatable. By request of a member, the members shall be polled to decide whether debate may be reopened
Whenever the Chairperson deems it necessary or desirable that the Commission board or committee, shall be represented at meetings, conferences or other occasions involving other governmental entities, agencies, officials or groups, or non-governmental organizations, or departments, agencies or officials of the County government, the Chairperson may nominate a member to represent the Commission, board or committee at the meeting, conference or other occasion, with the consent of the nominated member. Such representative shall have no power to act for or on behalf of the Commission, board or committee or to make any commitment or binding obligation on behalf of the Commission or the County. Such representatives may report to the Commission board or committee with regard to such meeting, conference or other occasion.
Regularly scheduled Bay County Commission meetings held at Bay County Government Complex, 840 West 11th Street, Panama City are broadcast by WKGC FM (90.7) AM (1480).