Ordinance No. 19-21

Introduced: September 23, 2019
Public Hearing: October 17, 2019
Status: Adopted

An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 5 of the Municipal Code of the Townshp of Vernon Entitled “Administration of Government” to Update the Rules of Order and Procedure Governing Council Meetings

Note: Strikeouts are deletions. Underlines are added material.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon as follows:

SECTION 1. Chapter 5 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon is hereby amended and supplemented as follows:

§ 5-7. Rules of order and procedure governing Council meetings.

  1. Quorum. A majority of all the members elected to the Council shall constitute a quorum at any regular or special meeting of the Council. If no member of the Council is present one-half hour after the appointed time for any meeting, the Clerk may adjourn the meeting.
  2. Preparation of agenda. The agenda for each regular and special meeting of Council shall be prepared by the Township Clerk or its his or her designee and approved by the Council President. The agenda for each regular meeting of the Council shall include only such matters of Council business as have been presented or delivered to the Clerk by the Mayor, Business Administrator or Councilpersons not later than 12:00 noon on the Tuesday preceding the meeting. Emergent matters may be added if necessary and approved by the Council President. As soon as the agenda for each meeting has been prepared, a copy shall be delivered to each member of Council and each department head. Upon approval, copies shall also be distributed to the press and to interested citizens upon request.
  3. Order of business. The order of business of the Township Council meetings shall be set annually by resolution of the Township Council.
  4. Conduct of meetings.
    1. Meeting of the Council shall be conducted in accordance with the statutes and common law of the State of New Jersey. In the event an existing law does not address a procedural issue, such item shall be resolved in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, current edition.
    2. Council members shall be allowed to attend meetings via telephone. Council members shall only be allowed to attend two meetings via telephone during any calendar year. No more than two council members can attend the same meeting via telephone. If a council member attends a meeting via telephone, the council member must be present by the telephone for the entire meeting. There shall be a speakerphone present at council meetings to ensure that members of the public attending the meeting can hear any member(s) attending a meeting via telephone.
    3. Reading of the minutes. The minutes of the previous meeting of the Council may be approved without reading if the Clerk has previously furnished each member of the Council with a copy thereof, but upon request of any member of the Council, the minutes or any part thereof shall be read prior to approval.
    4. Presiding officer may debate, vote, etc. The Council President or such other member of the Council as may be presiding may move, second and debate from the chair, and may vote on any question, subject only to such limitations of debate as are by these rules imposed on all members, and the presiding officer shall not be deprived of any of the rights and privileges of a member of the Council by reason of the member acting as the presiding officer.
    5. Privilege of closing debate. The member of the Council moving the adoption of an ordinance or resolution shall have the privilege of closing the debate.
    6. Motion to reconsider. A motion to reconsider any action taken by the Council may be made only at the meeting at which such action was taken. It may be made either immediately during the same session, or at a recessed or adjourned session of such meeting. Such motion may be made only by one of the prevailing side, but may be seconded by any member, and may be made at any time and have precedence over all other motions and it shall be debatable. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent any member of the Council from making or remaking at a subsequent meeting of the Council any motion previously made or considered.
    7. Remarks of member of Council; when entered in minutes. A member of the Council may request, through the presiding officer, the privilege of having an abstract of the member’s statement on any subject before the Council not exceeding 100 words entered in the minutes. If the Council consents, such abstract shall be entered in the minutes.
    8. Synopsis of debate; when entered in minutes. The Clerk may be directed by the presiding officer, with consent of the Council, to enter in the minutes a synopsis of the discussion on any question coming regularly before the Council.
  5. Addressing the Council.
    1. At every meeting of the Governing Body, a portion of the meeting shall be dedicated to public comment as required by N.J.S.A. 10:4-6, et. seq., generally, and more specifically N.J.S.A. 10:4-12.
    2. Any person desiring to address the Council shall first seek to be recognized by the Council President or presiding officer and state their name and address for the record. Persons recognized during the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting may address any issue of concern to the residents of the Municipality. Each person speaking during the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting shall not exceed 5 minutes unless extended by the Council. Persons recognized during other portions of the meeting shall confine any statement to the order of business set forth on the agenda. There will be a limited period of public comment at the beginning of every meeting where speakers will be limited to three (3) minutes. During the first period for public comment each speaker may speak only on items on the current agenda. The total time for public speaking at the beginning of the meeting is limited to one half hour (30 minutes) to provide the Governing Body sufficient time to complete its work.
    3. There will be a second period of public comment at the end of each Council meeting. Speakers will be limited to three (3) minutes where the public may speak on any topic.
    4. 3. 4. Presentations. When approved by the Council for a presentation, taxpayers or residents of the Township or their authorized legal representatives or parties with legitimate interest may address the Council and Public.
  6. Additional Rules of Conduct.
    1. No one will approach the microphone for public comment unless invited by the Township Clerk, Council President, or presiding officer as part of a public hearing or during one of the public comment periods.
    2. No profanity or obscenity is to be used or will be allowed. Anyone using profanity will be warned to not use profanity or obscenities. If after receiving a warning, a person continues to use profanity or obscenities, the person will be asked to step away from the microphone and be seated.
    3. No audible comments from the audience will be permitted.
    4. No person shall cause a disturbance or disrupt the meeting through the use of loud or abusive language. If a person fails to cease with disruptive behavior after being warned, the person will be ejected from the chambers and may not return during the rest of the meeting in progress.
    5. All cell phones and beepers must be placed in silent mode.
  7. F. G. Enforcement of decorum. The Chief of Police, or such member or members of the Police Department as the Chief may designate, shall be sergeant at arms of the Council meetings and shall be in attendance at Council meetings when requested by the Mayor and/or Council President. The sergeant at arms shall carry out all orders and instructions given by the presiding officer for the purpose of maintaining order and decorum at the meeting.

SECTION 2. Each section of this ordinance is an independent section, and the holding of any section or part thereof to be unconstitutional, void or ineffective for any cause shall not be deemed to affect the validity of constitutionality of any other sections or parts thereof.

SECTION 3. Any ordinances or parts thereof in conflict with the provisions of this Ordinance are hereby repealed as to their inconsistencies only.

SECTION 4. This Ordinance shall take effect immediately upon final passage, approval, and publication by law.

Note: Strikeouts are deletions. Underlines are added material.