Lots of rules and procedures guide how council meetings are run. These rules are put in place to ensure all sides of an issue can be heard in a fair and orderly manner. Some procedures are set by law like the number of readings a council must give a budget and how many times monthly a council must meet.
Most rules and procedures, however, are set by ordinance by each individual council. Many councils use Roberts Rules as a guide. However, Roberts Rules doesn't address many of the specific issues a council may face.
This Uptown article outlines some of the local situations that need to be addressed beyond Roberts Rules, such as voting to enter into executive session or publishing agendas to comply with FOIA requirements.
The Municipal Association's Handbook for Conducting Effective Meetings is a great place to start when trying to make sense of all the various rules and procedures a council must follow. The handbook includes a model rules of procedure ordinance many councils have found helpful in establishing their own.
A recent Supreme Court ruling regarding amending meeting agendas is another important issue to consider. While the court found a meeting agenda isn't required by law, the Association recommends to cities it should be a best practice to have an agenda for all meetings posted a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Read more here.
The current issue of Uptown includes a great article addressing the importance of rules of procedure. Also take a look at this presentation by certified parliamentarian Paul Krone to learn about many of the more commonly used motions and procedures.
If you are heading to the Annual Meeting, don't miss the breakout session on this topic, Don’t Put Your Council Meeting in ‘Jeopardy,’ on Saturday, July 12, at 2:30 p.m. During this fun and informative session, audience members can test their knowledge during a game of “Jeopardy” – municipal style - while learning more about the interesting complexities of parliamentary procedure.