[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Stillwater as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 2-19-2009 by L.L. No. 4-2009]
It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizenry be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and the discussions and decisions that go into the making of public policy. An informed public is essential to an accountable government.
The Town Board is the legislative body of the Town of Stillwater. Clearly, the residents of Stillwater should have access to the meetings of the Board wherein the public's business is being conducted. At the same time, however, the public's attendance must be decorous and respectful, most especially when the Board invites public comment. The opportunity to observe the meetings is not a license to disrupt the meeting.
The purpose of these rules is to prescribe a regular order of business and rules of conduct for those members of the public who attend the meetings of the Town Board.
The Town Board of the Town of Stillwater (the "Town") shall hold regular meetings on the first and third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Boardroom at Stillwater Town Hall, unless the Town Board determines otherwise. The Town Clerk shall be responsible to publish notice of regular meetings in accordance with § 104 of the Public Officers Law.
Agenda meeting. The first Thursday of the month shall be the agenda meeting. The purpose of the agenda meeting is to formulate the agenda for the next business meeting. The Supervisor, Board members and department heads may report on activities or issues affecting the Town, and they may request that one or more items be placed on the agenda for the next or a future business meeting. An item shall be placed on the agenda unless a majority of the Town Board disagrees. A preliminary agenda shall be prepared and distributed to the members by the Town Clerk after the agenda meeting. The Supervisor shall distribute the final agenda to the members prior to the business meeting.
Business meeting. The third Thursday of the month shall be the business meeting. The purpose of the business meeting is to take formal action on any proposed resolutions, local laws, ordinances or other matters requiring Board approval. Public comment at the business meeting shall be limited to comment on the matters presented at the business meeting.
Special meetings of the Town Board are those Town Board meetings other than regular meetings. A special meeting may be called by the Supervisor or at the request of any three members of the Board. At such special meeting, no business other than that for which the Board has called the special meeting shall be transacted. The Town Clerk shall publish notice of special meetings in accordance with § 104 of the New York State Public Officers Law.
An organizational meeting shall be held in early January of each year. This is a special meeting and shall be called and noticed in accordance with § 23-3 herein and § 104 of the Public Officers Law. At the annual organizational meeting, the Town Board shall:
Qualify Town officers and administer the oaths of office;
Insure that the specified Town officers file the required undertaking or, in the alternative, procure a blanket undertaking covering all Town officers and employees;
Fill all appointive positions and establish deputy and other discretionary positions;
Review and distribute the Town Code of Ethics to all Town officers and employees;
Fix the salaries and benefits for all positions within the Town;
Designate the official newspaper of the Town for purposes of publishing official notices; and
Take any and all other actions the Town Board deems necessary.
A quorum shall be required to conduct business. The majority of the Town Board shall constitute a quorum.
Executive sessions shall be held in accordance with § 105 of the Public Officers Law. All executive sessions shall be commenced in a public meeting with a motion identifying the general subject or subjects to be considered. Attendance shall be limited to any member of the Town Board and any other persons authorized to attend that executive session by the Town Board.
The Supervisor shall preside as Chairman at all meetings of the Town Board. In the Supervisor's absence or inability to serve, the Deputy Supervisor or another Town Board member designated by the Supervisor or Town Board shall act as presiding officer and shall so serve until the return of the Supervisor.
The presiding officer shall preserve order and decorum and shall decide all questions of order.
The order of business need not be followed if the presiding officer determines that it is necessary to deviate from the prescribed order of business.
Minutes of all meetings shall be taken by the Town Clerk. Minutes need not be a verbatim account of what is said, but rather the minutes shall consist of a written record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon.
Minutes shall be taken at executive session of any action that is taken by formal vote, which shall consist of a record or summary of the final determination of such action and the date and vote thereon; provided, however, that such summary need not include any matter that is not required to be made public by the New York Freedom of Information Law.
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.
Minutes shall also include the following:
Name of the Town Board;
Date, place and time of the meeting;
Notation of presence or absence of Town Board members and time of arrival or departure if different from time of call to order or adjournment;
Name and title of other Town officials and employees present and approximate number of attendees;
Record of communications presented to the Town Board;
Record of reports made by Town Board or other Town personnel;
Record of audited claims;
Record of resolutions, local laws, ordinances or other enactments;
Time of adjournment; and
Signature of Town Clerk or person who took the minutes if not the Town Clerk.
Minutes shall be transcribed and distributed, if available, at least three days before the next regular meeting. Minutes shall be approved at the next Town Board meeting after they have become available. Amendments, changes or additions to the minutes shall require Town Board approval.
The public shall be permitted to attend and observe any regular or special meeting of the Town Board.
Placards, banners or other signs shall not be permitted in the meeting rooms. Distribution of flyers or other materials shall not be permitted without the express permission of the presiding officer.
Public comment at agenda meetings.
Persons desiring to speak at the agenda meeting must sign in upon entering the room, indicating their request to address the Board. Speakers shall be recognized in the order that they signed in, and the presiding officer may, at his or her discretion, limit the time afforded to a speaker.
The presiding officer may, in his or her discretion, recognize additional speakers upon request, after taking into consideration the number of registered speakers and the total time for public comment.
Rules of conduct.
Comment and questions may be submitted orally or in writing before or at the Town Board meeting. Questions submitted or comments made may be answered either at the meeting or by oral or written response to the submitter by the appropriate Town official after the meeting.
Attendees shall remain seated until recognized by the presiding officer and shall not interrupt the procedures of the Board or the conduct of the meeting. Each speaker shall state his or her name, address, organization, if any, and the subject he or she will be addressing.
Speakers may not address the Board until recognized by the presiding officer. Comments by speakers must be addressed to the Town Board as a body.
Speakers shall observe the commonly accepted rules of courtesy, decorum, dignity and good taste. Speakers may not make personal comments about public officials, Town residents or others.
A speaker may disagree with or support prior speakers in comments directed to the Town Board, but direct exchanges between speakers and other attendees of the meeting is prohibited.
A person who disregards the directives of the presiding officer in enforcing these rules, disturbs the peace at a meeting, makes impertinent or slanderous remarks or generally conducts himself in a boisterous or inappropriate manner while addressing the Town Board shall forfeit any balance of time remaining for his comments and may be ejected from the meeting pursuant to § 240.20 of the New York State Penal Law.
Representatives of the media in attendance at a Town Board meeting shall adhere to all procedures as set forth herein. No questions from the media shall be entertained until after the meeting has been adjourned.
All members of the public, public officials and representatives of the media are allowed to audiotape or videotape public meetings. The recording shall be done in a manner that does not interfere with the meeting. Any setup of recording or camera equipment must be done in advance of the meeting so as to not be unduly disruptive, unless otherwise authorized by the presiding officer. Recording is not allowed during executive sessions.
Meetings shall be adjourned by motion.
The foregoing procedures may be amended from time to time by a majority vote of the Town Board.