[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Taneytown 1-14-1980 by Ord. No. 5-79 as Title 2, Chapter 1, Article C of the 1980 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Officers and employees — See Ch. 34.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
All reports, communications, ordinances, resolutions, contract documents or other matters to be submitted to the Council shall, at least 24 hours prior to each Council meeting, be delivered to the City Clerk, whereupon the City Clerk shall immediately arrange a list of such matters according to the order of business and furnish each member of the Council with a copy of the same prior to the Council meeting and as far in advance of the meeting as time for preparation will permit.
Editor's Note: Original Sec. 2-1-11, Meetings; regular and special, which immediately preceded this section and was amended 5-22-1990 by Ord. No. 9-90, was deleted 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99.
The presiding officer shall preserve strict order and decorum at all regular and special meetings of the Council. The presiding officer shall state every question coming before the Council, announce the decision of the Council on all subjects and decide all questions of order; subject, however, to an appeal to the Council, in which event a majority vote of the Council shall govern and conclusively determine those questions of order.
The Mayor shall take the chair precisely at the hour appointed for the meeting and shall immediately call the Council to order. In the absence of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem shall call the Council to order. Upon the arrival of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem shall immediately relinquish the chair upon the conclusion of the business immediately before the Council.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Before proceeding with the business of the Council, the City Clerk or his or her deputy shall call the roll of the members and the names of those present shall be entered in the minutes.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Promptly at the hour set on the day of each regular meeting, the members of the Council, the City Manager, the City Clerk and Mayor shall take their regular stations in the Council chambers, and the business of the Council shall be taken up for consideration and disposition in the following order:
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Unless a reading of the minutes of a Council meeting is requested by a member of the Council, those minutes may be approved without reading if the City Clerk has previously furnished each member with a copy thereof.
Presiding officer. The Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem or such other member of the Council as may be presiding may debate from the chair, subject only to those limitations of debate as are by these rules imposed on all members by reason of his or her acting as presiding officer, except that as presiding officer, he or she may vote only in case of a tie, as provided in Charter § C-304D.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Getting the floor; improper references to be avoided. Every member desiring to speak shall address the chair, and, upon recognition by the presiding officer, shall confine himself or herself to the question under debate, avoiding all personalities and indecorous language.
Interruptions. A member, once recognized, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it is to call him or her to order or as herein otherwise provided. If a member, while speaking, is called to order, he or she shall cease speaking until the question of order is determined, and, if in order, he or she shall be permitted to proceed.
Privilege of closing debate. The Council member moving the adoption of an ordinance or resolution shall have the privilege of closing the debate.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Any person desiring to address the Council shall first make appointment to do so by not later than Wednesday preceding a scheduled meeting; provided, however, that the presiding officer may allow any person to address the Council without securing such prior appointment.
Unless a member of the Council states that he or she is not voting, his or her silence shall be recorded as an affirmative vote.
[Amended 4-13-1981 by Ord. No. 7-81; 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Except as otherwise provided by law or in this Code, the procedure of the Council shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, newly revised, Henry M. Robert III, 1990.
The previous questions may be called at any time by a majority of the members present. The ayes and nays may be called for by any member.
Motions for any of these purposes shall have precedence in the order named.
A motion to adjourn shall always be in order and shall be decided without debate.
All committees of the Council shall be nominated by the Mayor and approved by the Council.
No account or other demand against the City shall be allowed until it has been considered and reported upon by the City Manager.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
Ordinances, resolutions and other matters or subjects requiring action by the Council must be introduced and sponsored by a member of the Council, except that the City Manager may present ordinances, resolutions and other matters or subjects to the Council, and any Council member may assume sponsorship thereof by moving that those ordinances, resolutions, matters or subjects be adopted; otherwise they shall not be considered.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
All reports and resolutions shall be filed with the City Clerk and entered in the minutes.
[Amended 8-9-1999 by Ord. No. 8-99]
All ordinances passed by the Council shall be prefaced by "Be it Enacted and Ordained by the Council of the City of Taneytown that..." Ordinances shall be signed by the Mayor and attested to by the Clerk, except in the case of a veto, at which time the Clerk shall attest the ordinance and so note that the same was passed pursuant to Charter provisions, notwithstanding the veto of the Mayor.
[Added 6-13-2016 by Ord. No. 22-2016]
Elected official conduct, protocol and policies.
The purpose of this section is to define the role of elected officials in the governance of the City. For the purposes of this section, "official" or "officials" shall mean the Mayor and each individual member of the City Council. This code consists of rules and guidelines intended to advance the City's goals of providing efficient and high-quality services to its residents and providing a safe and productive work environment for its employees.
Limitations; other laws and rules. This code addresses selective aspects of the governance of the City and supplements but does not supplant other laws and rules that prescribe the legal responsibilities of City elected officials ("officials"). Those include, among others, the State of Maryland Constitution, federal laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, the provisions of the City's own City Charter and Code, and the City's Employee Manual.
It is not possible for a code of this kind to anticipate and provide a rule of conduct for all situations. It is expected that officials will manage their behavior in a manner consistent with the rules that follow, respect the chain of command and behave within the bounds of their authority. It is also expected that officials will treat each other, City employees, residents and businesspeople with courtesy and respect in a manner that reflects well on the City.
Rules, policy and guidance. Policies governing the conduct of officials are listed in this section. Following each rule is a set of policies that give specific application to the rule. In italics following each rule is further explanation of the rule and guidance for interpreting and applying the rule and shall be made a part of such rule.
The Council and personnel matters.
Officials shall deal with the administrative service provided to the businesses and residents of the City solely through the City Manager.
Officials are encouraged to learn the functions and operations of the various departments, or to understand the operational steps related to a specific task or job; however, officials shall not direct, order or make demands of any City employee, other than inquiries that can be answered routinely and without research, or notify such employee, such as police on patrol, of issues that are part of their normal routines. In addition, there are times when the official may be serving as the project or task lead and directing the tasks of employees in the absence of the employee's supervisor. Such a role is acceptable if properly approved by the Mayor and City Council. In no case shall the official give direction to an employee that incurs additional expense to the City. Any concerns about work assignment or department performance should be addressed to the City Manager.
Implementation Guidance. The City's staff is organized in a hierarchical structure, and City employees work under the direction and control of several layers of management culminating with the City Manager. Individual officials are not part of that management structure and have no authority to direct employees. When an official attempts to give an employee direction outside the scope of what is detailed above, the employee is put in an awkward position and the management structure is undermined. In some cases such actions have the potential for creating liability for the City. Officials are not authorized directly to give work assignments to employees, including department heads, outside of the scope detailed above. Employees are instructed not to take impromptu directions or work assignments from officials and to report any such attempts to their supervisor and/or department head. Any employee who has a question or a concern is expected to address this matter with their department head or supervisor. Employees will be held accountable for approaching officials on these matters as a way of circumventing or undermining the role, authority and responsibility of their supervisor.
Officials shall not attempt to reorganize priorities of a department head or any employees or influence the manner by which City staff delegates assignments or performs their assigned functions or duties.
Implementation Guidance. City employees are directed in their everyday tasks by their immediate supervisor in accordance with approved work plans. Interference with an employee's work routine, priorities or decisionmaking processes by an official creates confusion and stress and places the employee in the difficult position of either disregarding his or her assigned work or appearing to disrespect the official's wishes. All requests for work, staff assistance or research should be directed to the City Manager. From time to time an official may believe that a problem must be looked into immediately and is tempted to direct an employee to drop everything and focus on that problem. Officials must, however, communicate their concern to the City Manager or, in the absence thereof, the department head.
Officials shall not retaliate or threaten to retaliate against employees.
Implementation Guidance. It is critical to the success of the City that its employees enjoy a workplace free of the fear of retaliation. The City takes great pride in its creativity and its receptivity to new and different ideas; an open and nonjudgmental atmosphere fosters creativity where candor is not penalized. City employees are hired to offer their professional judgments and opinions. Officials are certainly free to disagree with those judgments; indeed, those officials ultimately may have the final word. However those disagreements must not extend to threats or generate fear of reprisal. Officials enjoy substantial influence within City Hall; this authority must not be exercised in a manner that intimidates staff and degrades morale with resulting damage to the fabric of the organization.
Officials shall not threaten a City employee with disciplinary action.
Implementation Guidance. If an official is concerned about the performance of a City employee, that concern should be expressed privately to the City Manager. Such criticisms can then be addressed in accordance with the City's personnel rules, in a manner that protects the employee's rights and protects the City's authority to properly discipline its employees. It is never acceptable for an official directly to threaten disciplinary action of any kind, and rarely, if ever, is it appropriate to publicly criticize an employee. Officials may have high expectations of employees' work performance, but there is no room or tolerance in the City organization for public humiliation of any person.
Officials that are approached or engaged by employees regarding work-related issues or concerns of employees will direct such employee to follow the chain of command and procedures for addressing concerns as detailed in the City Codes, Personnel Manual and directives issued on such matters. Furthermore, the official will notify the City Manager if the official feels that the actions of the employee were an attempt to gain leverage or circumvent the systems and procedures in place. The official will follow up with the City Manager to see if the issue was properly addressed. Any egregious issues involving the City Manager will be addressed as spelled out in the Personnel Manual. At no time will the official take further action on the matter or engage any further with the employee unless all remedies have been exercised as detailed in the City Codes, Personnel Manual and directives issued on such matters.
Implementation Guidance. It is plausible that employees will attempt to gain leverage on a situation, issue or dispute with a fellow employee. It is also plausible for employees to attempt to negatively influence the opinion of an official as a way of gaining a more favorable outcome for the employee. This type of behavior erodes the chain of command and structure of the City's operations. It also creates inconsistencies in how issues are resolved and creates divisiveness within the employee ranks, while reducing overall organizational morale. Not only is this unhealthy for the organization, but any misuse of interaction of employees and officials in this manner should not be tolerated. Furthermore, this section should NOT be taken as a statement that the City condones or turns a blind eye towards inappropriate behavior, hostile environments or legitimate workplace issues of employees. Policies must be followed to address employee concerns to ensure timely and proper resolution.
Officials shall not discuss any personal issues about employees with any person, persons, entities or agencies; nor shall any official make disparaging or slanderous remarks about employees, offer details or documentation regarding an employee's work or personal issues, conduct formal or informal investigations into employees, or discuss or provide any information or documents regarding past, present, proposed or pending disciplinary actions of any employees unless all such above-listed acts have been authorized by formal action of the City Council.
Implementation Guidance. Employees of the City are public employees, however still have certain protections related to personnel matters which are not subject to public disclosure. State law authorizes closed sessions for the Mayor and Council to address personnel matters, and the Maryland Public Information Act provides certain provisions for denial of personnel information to the public. Further, the City's Employee Manual and certain state and federal laws also create certain obligations and conditions regarding employees' workplace rights. Individual elected officials shall not discuss employee matters outside of official meetings and business and will protect the privacy, reputation and integrity of the City's employees whenever possible.
Individual members as part of the collective body. Officials shall act collectively in a properly noticed and constituted meeting; officials have no authority to make decisions or take actions on behalf of the body unless expressly authorized to do so.
Officials shall not make representations or promises to any third party regarding the future actions of the City or of the City Council, unless the City Council has duly authorized such representation or promise.
Implementation Guidance. When officials engage in conversations with residents, business owners, applicants, developers, lobbyists and officials of other governmental agencies, they should be cautious not to make representations or promises that they cannot legally make or keep. Future actions of a legislative body cannot be promised or predicted with certainty. Individual officials do not have authority to make commitments on behalf of the City unless expressly authorized to do so by the body of which they are a member.
When making public utterances, officials shall make it clear whether they are authorized to speak on behalf of the City or whether they are presenting their own views.
Implementation Guidance. Officials occasionally speak before other public bodies, neighborhood groups or to the press. When doing so, they should always make it clear whether they are presenting their own point of view or whether they have been authorized by the City to present a particular view. They should be clear in all oral and written utterances whether they are using their title for identification purposes or because they are speaking in an official capacity.
An official shall not, either directly or indirectly, be involved in or attempt to influence administrative matters that are under the direction of the City Manager or a department head, such as staff decisionmaking, the development of staff recommendations, scheduling of work, executing department priorities, personnel issues, purchasing, etc.; or interfere with the manner by which the City Manager or a department head performs his or her duties. It is recognized that the department heads report to the City Manager.
Implementation Guidance. This is necessary to protect staff from undue influence and pressure from individual officials and to allow staff to execute work in the priority set by management. Neither the City Manager nor department heads can function effectively if inconsistent direction is received from individual elected officials or if not given the support and independence necessary to administer their respective duties and assignments. If an elected official wishes to influence an administrative action, decision, recommendation, workload, work schedule, etc., it must be brought to the attention of the Mayor and City Council so the Mayor and Council can decide whether to address it as a matter of policy.
Officials shall not interfere with the implementation by City staff of approved projects and programs.
Implementation Guidance. As detailed in Charter § C-603, the City Manager is responsible for the management of the City, including, but not limited to, City projects, grant programs, infrastructure upgrades, repairs and maintenance; and shall coordinate the work of all related consultants, engineers, contractors and agents thereof; and shall have the power to assign and delegate such duties to other staff as needed. City officials must avoid interfering with or directing the City Manager's method of carrying out the Council's decisions, even if the project or program was conceived and initiated by an individual member of the Council. Once a project or program receives City Council's approval, it is an official activity of the City, not of any individual member of the City Council. Officials do not have authority and should refrain from giving directions or instructions to City contractors or consultants working on City projects or programs or attempt to change the scope or any portion thereof without the concurrence of the City Manager.
Individual officials shall be respectful of the need for a managed, professional approach to managing special City events, initiatives and activities. No commitments of funds, resources, equipment or personnel shall be made without the concurrence of the City Manager.
Implementation Guidance. It is not unusual for the Mayor and City Council to receive requests from citizens, vendors, personal contacts, etc., requesting assistance with certain administrative functions of the City. This is particularly true for the more visible functions, such as event management, marketing and promotion, etc. For example, event management is a staff-driven administrative function - syncing the event calendar with other City functions, allocating space, equipment and employees, preplanning and coordinating public safety, traffic and pedestrian access and financial management and documentation. Staff's approach to event management combines professional judgment with past experiences in order to create well-rounded, quality events for the community.
The Mayor and Council enjoy certain statutory protections when they act as a collective unit exercising proper legislative and executive authority. Individual action not only places increased risk and liability on the person taking such action but also creates potential liability for the City for such individual acts. Individual elected officials shall not act individually outside their authority as defined by the City Code and Charter.
Implementation Guidance. Individual elected officials may feel that they are empowered by their election to individually represent the City in any manner in which they see fit, or to say whatever they want, or discuss any City business they want with whomever they want. Beyond this conduct being hereby declared unacceptable, it is also hereby interpreted to be "an individual and personal act occurring outside the scope of their official responsibilities and/or beyond their public official authority." The City's liability coverage is in place to protect elected and appointed persons who act within the scope of their official employment and authority, as spelled out in the City Charter, City Codes or formally sanctioned acts of City Council. This liability coverage does not provide coverage for the conduct or acts of an official that are deemed to be "individual and personal acts."
Improper use of information and resources. City resources shall be used solely for proper governmental purposes and only with proper authorization.
There shall be only one City letterhead format and no "individual elected official" letterhead. City letterhead may only be used for official City business to express the position and interests of the City and not to express the personal position or opinion of an elected official.
Implementation Guidance. City letterhead must be used with care to avoid misunderstandings. Letterhead must be used to communicate official City policy or actions and for the transaction of official City business.
City employees shall not be asked or directed to spend time on non-City business.
Implementation Guidance. It is improper to ask or require a City employee to engage in non-City-related activities. Non-City activities include, among other things, election-campaign-related activities and personal errands. Further, City employees should not be solicited to engage in political activity on behalf of a City official.
Officials shall not use or disclose information obtained through City service for improper or illegal purposes.
Implementation Guidance. Officials often acquire information in performing their duties that is not generally available to the public, including information received in closed sessions. Sometimes this information is confidential or highly sensitive. This includes legal advice or opinions given to the City by its legal advisors. Information that is not generally available to the public must remain confidential and be used only for the purposes for which it was divulged. In particular, this information can never be used for personal gain.
Acts against the City. When representing the City, officials shall conduct themselves in a dignified manner and in accordance with all legal requirements.
When representing the City on official business, officials shall not speak negatively of the City or of any City officials, employees, contractors or vendors; furthermore, said officials shall behave responsibly and in a manner as to project a positive image for the City.
Implementation Guidance. Whenever an official is representing the City, in or out of the City, the official is "on duty" and should behave in a manner that will reflect well on the City. When out of the City or at social events, there is a temptation to behave more informally than one might in City Hall, which can lead to awkward or embarrassing situations and in extreme cases to improper or illegal behavior. When at government, civic or political functions, officials should avoid drinking alcohol to excess.
An official who unsuccessfully takes legal action against the City by way of a claim, suit, charge or petition shall reimburse all court costs, attorney and legal fees incurred by the City, if such legal action is unsuccessful and was not related to a claim of discrimination or other like charge.
Implementation Guidance. Sometimes legal actions are an option when resolving disputes; however, such legal actions brought forth by an official are paid for by the taxpayers of the City of Taneytown. When such actions are not related to a civil liberty or recovery of damages on the part of the official, then the dispute is more than likely borne by failure to accept the democratic process or the procedures legally in place to govern the City. This does not preclude the official from mounting a legal challenge; but if the courts do not agree that some type of indiscretion or misconduct has taken place, then the taxpayers are entitled to reimbursement of their money.
Officials shall exercise best efforts to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the performance of their official duties.
Implementation Guidance. The public's confidence in the integrity and fairness of City government often hinges on the behavior of the officials. Real or perceived ethical lapses by the officials undermine the effectiveness of the City and cast a shadow on the decisions of its legislative bodies. Often, ethical considerations extend beyond the legal requirements of conflict of interest law. Officials must avoid situations which may not technically violate laws or other ethical provisions, so as to avoid the appearance of any impropriety.
Failure to attend/participate. Elected officials have a great deal of responsibility and are charged with keeping the City's best interest at heart and to act in a financially responsible manner. In order to fulfill this responsibility, elected officials are encouraged to participate in various meetings, trainings, seminars and conferences. Elected officials are free to establish their own levels of participation; however, elected officials are also reminded that some of these meetings, trainings, seminars and conferences require an advance payment of funds by the City to reserve and secure the official's participation in those events and, as such, they are expected to attend and participate in those events.
An elected official that agrees to attend, requests to attend, or signs up to attend a meeting, training, seminar, conference or other such related events, but does not participate or attend such event or function, shall be required to reimburse the City for any or all portions of any cost paid for by the City and not recoverable by way of refund or credit issued to the City, unless extenuating circumstances exist and reimbursement is waived by a majority vote of the City Council.
Failure to follow Code/Employee Manual.
Elected officials must adhere to all of the requirements contained in the Taneytown City Code, which include but are not limited to the Taneytown Ethics Ordinance, the Campaign Finance Ordinance, and similar provisions. Any violation of these provisions serves to undermine the public trust in elected office and shall be considered additional violations to this Code of Conduct and subject to enforcement and penalties herein.
Section 8, Section 9, Section 10, and Section 11.1 of the Taneytown Employee Manual shall be applicable to City elected officials. Violations of these provisions shall be considered violations of this Code of Conduct and subject to enforcement and penalties herein.
As these are rules and polices governing the Mayor and Council, only the Mayor and Council members may make a complaint for alleged violations. A written statement alleging a violation of this Code of Conduct by an elected official shall be submitted as a resolution to the Mayor and City Council, citing the person involved and the events surrounding the matter. This resolution shall be placed on the Council's agenda for discussion in the same manner as other resolutions. After discussion and an opportunity for the elected official who is the subject of the complaint to address the matter at the meeting where the resolution is discussed, the City Council shall make a finding in the matter. If it is found that a violation has occurred, the City Council shall, by motion, impose any penalty deemed applicable. These actions shall be made by a super-majority vote of the remaining members who are not the subject of the complaint. These actions are not subject to a veto by the Mayor, but the Mayor may vote in case of a tie.
Penalties which may be imposed by the City Council shall be a fine between $50 and $500; a written reprimand; written censure; or other penalties permitted by the Charter and City Code; or a combination thereof.