Council Meeting

Rules and Procedures

This chapter contains two major sections. The first presents general background information regarding the handling of Council business in meetings of the Council body and summaries of some relevant rules and laws existing outside this handbook. The second section sets forth special rules of procedure specifically adopted by the Council to supplement or supersede those rules found elsewhere. An outline of the Chapter is included below in order to assist in finding particular points of interest:

1. Background Information and Summaries of Governing Laws

a. General Principles Applicable to Meetings of the Council

i. The Open and Public Meetings Act

ii. Voting or Abstaining

iii. Checks and Balances

iv. Mayoral Veto

v. Undoing or Amending a Prior Action

(1) Reconsideration

(2) Rescinding an Action Not Yet Executed

(3) Repealing an Action Already Executed

(4) Amending Something Previously Adopted (Rescinding Differences)

(5) Amending Something Previously Adopted (Repealing Differences)

vi. Council Minutes

vii. Council Meeting Rules

b. Types of Council Meetings

i. Work Meeting

(1) Work Meeting Agenda

(2) Work Meeting Schedule

(3) Work Meeting Actions

ii. Council Meeting

(1) Council Meeting Schedule

(2) Council Actions

iii. Other Meetings

2. Special Rules of Procedure

a. General Rules

i. Robert’s Rules of Order

ii. Requests for Council Action

iii. Rules Governing Meetings of the Council

iv. Debate

v. Motions

b. Rules for Certain Meetings

i. Electronic Meetings

ii. Work Meeting

(1) Moving Items from Work Meeting to a Council Meeting Agenda

(2) Consideration of Planning Commission Items

(3) Work Meeting Procedure

iii. Council Meeting Procedure

(1) Council Meeting Procedure

(2) Consent Agenda

(3) Consideration of Planning Commission Items

1. Background Information and Summaries of Governing Laws

a. General Principles Applicable to Meetings of the Council

i. The Open and Public Meetings Act

Public notice is required when a quorum (four or more Council Members) are present at a meeting convened (called by someone with authority) for the purpose of discussing or acting on a subject over which the Council has jurisdiction.

Different types of Council actions require different types of noticing. Generally, Council meetings require 24 hours’ notice, with agendas placed in three public places and submitted to the press. The notice must include the place, date, and time, as well as the agenda. A topic of discussion not on the agenda that is raised during an open meeting may be discussed, but no final action may be taken during the meeting.

Different types of Council action may require additional legal notice. For example, General Plan amendments require 10 days’ notice.

ii. Voting or Abstaining

Voting upon City issues and policies is the privilege and the responsibility of each Council member. The choice to vote in the affirmative or negative, or to abstain is a personal and often weighty decision.

To pass or amend an ordinance or resolution or take any other action, four (a majority) or more Council “yes” votes are required, even if less than all Council members are present, unless the law provides otherwise for a specific type of matter. When a Council member chooses to abstain from a vote, at least four affirmative votes are still required for the vote to succeed. Thus, even though an abstention is not a vote, it may contribute to a motion’s failure. See UCA 10-3-504 and 10-3-507.

iii. Checks and Balances

Patterned after both State and Federal governments, the Council-Mayor system has definite checks and balances. For example, the Mayor must receive a majority confirmation from the Council on appointments of Department Heads and statutory officers and proposed appointments to City boards or commissions. State law also dictates that the Mayor may join in the discussion during Council meetings, but does not vote.

iv. Mayoral Veto

The Mayor can veto an ordinance, tax levy or appropriation. If the Mayor vetoes a Council action, the Mayor must return the action to the Council within 15 days with a written statement of explanation. If, after considering the Mayor's objections, the Council feels justified in its original action, it can override the Mayor’s veto with a vote of at least two-thirds of the members (5 votes) at the next Council Meeting. If the Mayor does not return an item within 15 days, the action takes effect without the Mayor's signature. See UCA 10-3b-204.

v. Undoing or Amending a Prior Action

(1) Reconsideration

A Council member may move to reconsider a vote of the Council held earlier during the same meeting, but only if that Council member voted originally with the prevailing side. A motion to reconsider requires a second, which may be made by any Council Member. If a motion to reconsider passes with four or more votes, the motion to be reconsidered is immediately undone and is once again before the Council to be debated and voted on.

(2) Rescinding an Action Not Yet Executed

A motion to rescind may be made with respect to an action that the Council approved at a previous meeting as long as it is still possible to undo the action. An ordinance or a portion of an ordinance that has not yet gone into effect may be rescinded. For example, a zone change may be rescinded before the effective date of the ordinance, but approval of a contract may not be rescinded after it has been executed and gone into effect.

A motion to rescind may be made by any Council Member and requires a second. If public notice of consideration of the motion to rescind was given not less than 24 hours in advance of the meeting during which it is considered, the motion may be passed by a vote of four or more Council Members. If a motion to rescind is considered in an emergency meeting for which less than 24 hours public notice is given, the motion may be passed by a vote of five or more Council Members. When a motion to rescind passes, the previously approved action is immediately undone as if it had never been approved.

(3) Repealing an Action Already Executed

Where a previously approved action has gone into effect and may no longer be rescinded, it may be repealed. There is no time limit on making such a motion after the adoption of the original action. Repeal is accomplished by a formal resolution or ordinance that does away with the resolution or ordinance that is being repealed. Repeal is effective only after the resolution or ordinance accomplishing the repeal becomes effective under state and local law. (So for example, a repeal ordinance may be vetoed by the Mayor, and would only go into effect if subsequently passed over the Mayor’s veto.) Therefore, a resolution or ordinance that is later repealed is still considered to have been in effect from its effective date until the effective date of the repeal and may potentially create some vested rights during that effective period.

(4) Amending Something Previously Adopted (Rescinding Differences)

A previously approved action may also be amended rather than being undone entirely. However, a distinction must be made with regard to whether the action to be amended has already gone into effect or not. If not, then it may be amended in accordance with the rules pertaining to a rescission, and if such a motion to amend passes, the previously approved action is immediately amended as if it had originally been passed in its new, amended form.

(5) Amending Something Previously Adopted (Repealing Differences)

If the action to be amended has already gone into effect, then it may be amended in accordance with the rules for repeal, but, just as with a repealed action, the original version of the action is considered to have been in effect from its original effective date until the effective date of the amendment. Similarly, this type of amendment may be vetoed and the original version may have created some vested rights during its effective period.

vi. Council Minutes

Council minutes are not intended to be a verbatim record. A digital sound and visual recording exist and are available to the public as an exact record of the proceedings. In addition to the written minutes, recordings will be kept in perpetuity (beyond existing records retention requirements under Utah State Government Records and Management Act). The medium in which they are stored will be updated by Council Staff every five years to prevent data corruption and file loss.

Regular Council Meeting minutes are maintained by the City Recorder. Council minutes are a written record of the proceedings during an actual time period. They reflect the substance of what actually occurred in Council meetings. Their purpose is to legally record the official actions that were taken by the Council.

To conserve Council Staff time and resources, Work Meeting minutes are intentionally brief and need only capture the substance of the topics discussed.

Council members are required to approve the minutes. Corrections, deletions or additions to factual information, quoted statements, meeting events and official Council actions should be made during the Council meeting prior to the vote when minutes are approved. The Council should view this as an opportunity to correct the record of the actual Council meeting, not an opportunity to revise history.

After minutes are approved, any additional corrections, deletions, clarifications or additions should be submitted in writing to the Chair, other Council members, and the Council Director. The Council as a whole, will review the submitted document and will vote to determine if the document is:

a. a factual correction and will be inserted into the previously approved minutes; or

b. a necessary and pertinent clarification and will be attached to the minutes as an addendum; or

c. insignificant, unrelated or inappropriate information that will not be included or attached to the minutes.

vii. Council Meeting Rules

By City and State law, the Council is required to adopt rules to regulate the Council’s meetings. Section 2 of this Chapter describes the rules adopted by the Council. By state law, those rules shall be made available at each meeting of the Council and on the City website.

The Executive Director or designee shall fill the role of parliamentarian. This Handbook helps to solidify some of the Council’s internal procedures and should be reviewed by the Council at least every two years. See PCC 2.50.010 and UCA 10-3-606.


b. Types of Council Meetings

i. Work Meeting

(1) Work Meeting Agenda

The following types of information are usually considered in a Work Meeting:

      • Presentations and reports from community organizations or City Departments;
      • Previews of proposed new or amended ordinances/resolutions; and
      • In-depth discussion of internal Council processes, procedures, missions, and/or goals.

(2) Work Meeting Schedule

Council Work Meetings are usually held in the afternoon prior to regular Council Meetings, and are usually followed by a meal for Council Members, the Mayor, and select staff. Work Meetings are designed to be a less formal venue for discussion among Council Members. Generally, no public input is taken during the meeting.

(3) Work Meeting Actions

Work Meetings are legally noticed by staff and must list all topics proposed for discussion and action. In a Work Meeting, the Council may:

      • Vote to move an item forward to the next available Council Meeting for final action.
      • Vote to move an item forward to a future Council Meeting when more information on the issue will be available (on a specific date or at the Chair’s discretion if no date is specified).
      • Vote to refer an item back to another Work Meeting (on a specific date or at the Chair’s discretion if no date is specified).
      • Vote to refer an item (if appropriate) to the Planning Commission for further review.
      • Vote to refer an item to a Council Committee for study, usually with a specific report date.
      • Vote to deny any further action (the issue is dead).
      • Take such further action as the Municipal Council, by majority vote, shall approve.

ii. Council Meeting

(1) Council Meeting Schedule

By City ordinance, regular Council Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. unless otherwise legally noticed. See PCC 2.50.035. Each meeting usually begins with a ceremonial portion which may include the Pledge of Allegiance, an invocation, presentations of merit, City-wide proclamations, and a Public Comment period.

The Chair or the Vice Chair at the Chair’s direction, or a Leadership designee conducts the Council meeting. State law requires that certain actions be conducted as a public hearing. Other items may be opened for public comment at the discretion of the Chair or by majority vote of the Council.

(2) Council Actions

Typical actions on Council Meeting agenda items include the following:

      • Approve an action.
      • Reject an action either by (1) an explicit motion to reject or (2) as the result of a failed motion to approve.
      • Continue an item to a future specified date.
      • Move an item to an unspecified date. (This may affect the validity of the current legal notice. The Council may want to check with staff or plan for the City to pay for additional legal noticing of Land Use or appropriation items if no specific date is included in the motion to forward an item.)
      • Refer an item back to a Work Meeting or Council Committee, convene an Ad Hoc Committee, or refer to Council or Administrative Staff for more study or information. It is usual to designate a “report back to Council” date and a lead person.

iii. Other Meetings

Other Meetings, such as Closed Meetings or joint meetings with the Orem City Council, the Provo School Board, or City Boards and Commissions, are scheduled on a regular basis or as needed. The Mayor is always invited to all noticed meetings, and his or her schedule is taken into consideration whenever possible.

Notice for these meetings shall be given by staff as required by law.

2. Special Rules of Order

a. General Rules

i. Robert’s Rules of Order

The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) shall govern in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the Special Rules of Order in this handbook, with Provo City Code or with Utah State Code. Pursuant to PCC 2.50.010, the Council may adopt or repeal any rules by majority vote. Rules may also be suspended in a given meeting by a 2/3 vote of those present. Violation of a rule contained herein shall not be the basis for invalidating any ordinance, resolution, or provision of City Code.

ii. Requests for Council Action

A request for Council action may be brought forward by two Council members, the Council Chair, or the Mayor. When a private individual or group sees a need for new or changed legislative policy, they may bring their proposal to an individual Council member and request sponsorship. When a Council member is willing to sponsor proposed legislative changes, he or she should work with the Chair or gain support from a second Council member.

The legislative change process is set in motion when the sponsoring Council member has secured support from the Chair or a second Council member and then delivers a memo to Leadership and the Council Executive Director by noon, at least seven days prior to the Work Meeting where it could first be considered. The memo should be dated, and should include a description of the proposal, the desired outcome and any pertinent background information. If the Chair is not a sponsor, the memo should include communications of support from the sponsoring members or their signatures.

Council staff, under the direction of the Chair, will coordinate scheduling, legal noticing, informing the Mayor, and gathering any additional legal information for the Council members’ packet.

iii. Rules Governing Meetings of the Council

The following rules/procedures shall govern the conduct of any meeting of the Council, unless superseded by a more specific rule in subsection 2.b. of this Chapter:

      • The Council Chair shall call an agenda item or items and describe the item(s);
      • As needed, Administration or Council Staff shall present relevant information regarding the item(s);
      • Council members may ask questions of the presenter(s);
      • At the discretion of the Chair, or if legally required, the floor shall be opened for public comment;
      • Following public comment, if any, the Chair shall invite comments or motions from Council members;
      • Once a motion has been made, the Chair shall ask if any Council member wishes to second the motion (which merely indicates a desire to discuss the motion further, not necessarily to approve it);
      • If there is no second, the motion dies;
      • If there is a second, the Chair shall clarify the motion and invite discussion on it;
      • If the measure is a resolution or ordinance, the Chair shall ask that a written version of it be displayed or distributed to Council members;
      • During discussion of a measure, a Council member may move to amend it in part or in whole;
      • Once discussion of a motion concludes, the Chair shall call for a vote;
      • The Chair shall announce the result of the vote;
      • Throughout this process, the Chair shall control who has the floor and shall make rulings on motions or questions of procedure as needed;
      • Any member may move to appeal a procedural ruling of the Chair and, if seconded, the question shall be decided by majority vote. Members may not criticize a ruling of the Chair unless they make such an appeal;
      • Council members and City staff shall be recognized and given the floor by the Chair before speaking;
      • Members of the public shall refrain from comment except as called upon and recognized by the Chair or in accordance with the procedures for a formal public comment period;
      • Only one person may speak at a time.

iv. Debate

The following rules apply to the discussion of, and debate on, any pending motion and are intended to preserve the rights of Council Members to express their opinions and arguments, while simultaneously promoting efficiency in reaching decisions. The Council Chair has discretion to apply or interpret these rules in the way that best serves these twin purposes. However, that discretion is a procedural decision that is subject to majority vote of the Council or, in the event of a seconded motion to extend or limit debate, a 2/3 majority.

      • Members shall be recognized by the Chair before speaking.
      • Council members may speak twice on any debatable motion on the same day, for up to ten minutes each time. Speaking time cannot be saved or yielded to someone else.
      • The maker of a motion gets preference to speak first in debate.
      • A member who has not yet spoken on the same motion gets preference over someone who has already spoken on it.
      • Members may be permitted to speak more than twice to clear up a matter of fact or to explain some material part of their speech. While they don’t have the right to discuss the question itself more than twice, they may be permitted to do so.
      • A member who has spoken twice on the main question may again speak twice on an amendment.
      • In practice, a member is often given the privilege of speaking more than twice – when that member can explain any point misunderstood and present facts to refute arguments by those opposed.
      • The rule that no one shall be permitted to speak more than twice should not be so strictly enforced that someone who has spoken twice cannot clear up some question that has arisen in the debate.
      • When members are known by the Chair to have opposite opinions on a motion, the Chair should try to alternate between speakers who favor and those who oppose the motion under discussion.
      • During debate, Council member speech must relate to the topic under discussion. Comments should be germane to the question of whether the pending motion should be adopted.
      • Debate on a measure is confined to the measure under consideration and does not extend to criticism of other measures before the Council or in committee, even though they relate to the same subject.
      • It is out of order to refer in debate to potential committee recommendations or findings not yet reported by the committee.
      • Vigorous debate about the merits of a motion is healthy to achieving a good result. However, the proposal is the subject of the debate, not any member. Personal attacks are not allowed. Ideas or likely results of a proposal may be attacked but not personalities. The motives of another member should not be attacked or impugned.
      • To decrease the danger that debate becomes personal, certain formalities of speech are encouraged – such as speaking as though talking to the Chair, using titles instead of names, and using last names instead of first names. Work Meeting may be somewhat less formal than Council Meetings.

v. Motions

The following rules shall govern the making of, and voting on, motions during the various Council meetings:

      • Procedural motions such as approving minutes, recessing, or adjourning may pass without a motion by Unanimous Consent. To obtain Unanimous Consent, the Chair asks if there is any objection to taking the procedural action. If not, the Chair declares the action to be taken by Unanimous Consent. If there is an objection, the Chair shall call for a vote.
      • A Main Motion regarding a resolution or ordinance must refer unambiguously to a written copy of the resolution or ordinance that is available for Council members to view before discussion or voting proceeds.
      • A Motion to Amend may insert, strike out, or substitute words, paragraphs, sections, or an entire main motion.
      • Secondary amendments (second degree) which amend an amendment are allowed. Third degree amendments are not allowed.
      • Substitute Motions that combine a proposed amendment of a resolution or ordinance and passage in one step are not allowed. Such substitute motions introduce the possibility of “on the fly” amendments that are ambiguous. The written draft should be amended first so that Council members may view it. Additional amendments may be considered and voted on. After the draft has been amended, possibly multiple times until there are no further amendments, the Council votes separately on whether to pass the amended draft.
      • Other Substitute Motions are allowed. For example, assume there is a Main Motion that does not deal with a resolution or ordinance, but instead moves to form a committee with a certain makeup and mission statement. A Substitute Motion to request a report from the Administration rather than form a committee would be in order.
      • There can be up to three motions on the floor at the same time.
      • No debate is allowed on the following motions:
          1. A motion to adjourn;
          2. A motion to recess;
          3. A motion to fix a time to adjourn;
          4. A motion to table; and
          5. A motion to limit debate;
      • Most motions carry by simple majority vote unless the law, Robert’s Rules, or these rules specifically requires otherwise (for example, motions to go into a closed session).
      • Motions that require a two-thirds majority to carry include:
          1. A motion to suspend the rules;
          2. A motion to extend or limit debate;
          3. A motion for the Previous Question (which ends debate and brings the matter to an immediate vote).

b. Rules for Certain Meetings

i. Electronic Meetings

This rule was adopted to satisfy UCA 52-4-207: Electronic Communications. Council Members may, on occasion, participate in Council meetings by electronic communication if the required technology is available and the meeting is legally noticed in accordance with the Utah State Law. The Council must provide space and facilities at a location where the public may attend, monitor and participate in the open portions of the meetings as specified in UCA 52-4-207.

ii. Work Meeting

(1) Moving Items from Work Meeting to a Council Meeting Agenda

All proposed legislative changes must be discussed in a Council Work Meeting prior to being heard in a regular Council Meeting. A Council majority must vote to move each item forward from Work Meeting to a future Council Meeting agenda. The date of the future Council Meeting is either specified in the motion or left to the discretion of the Council Chair, if not specified.

If proposed legislation has not already been drafted, then once a majority has voted to move an item from Work Meeting to a Council Meeting Agenda, Council staff will work with the sponsor to draft the proposed legislation for Council action. Input should be solicited from the Mayor and other affected parties at all stages of this process.

Because of the depth of information provided by Community Development through Staff and Planning Commission reports, Land Use Items may, at the Chair’s discretion, be placed directly on the Council Meeting Agenda. Executive Sessions may also function as a Council Work Meeting. See PCC 2.60.040.

(2) Consideration of Planning Commission Items

Certain items that are reviewed by the Planning Commission for recommendations are then forwarded on to the Council for ultimate action. Planning Commission staff have agreed that they will simultaneously provide legal notice of such items for the for the Planning Commission meeting and for the next Work Meeting and Council Meeting (both on the same day). Such items will normally be heard at the noticed meetings. However, where appropriate, the Chair or the majority of the Council may change when the item is heard. When such changes occur, the new date shall be indicated on the agenda of the meeting for which the item was originally noticed or by the Chair during the meeting. (See Section 2.b.iii.(3) for additional rules concerning these items.)

(3) Work Meeting Procedure

Work Meetings shall generally follow the rules of order stated in Section 2.a. of this Chapter, except that the Chair may, at his or her discretion, cut off discussion of an agenda item. A decision by the Chair to cut off discussion may be overruled by majority vote of the Council.

iii. Council Meeting

(1) Council Meeting Procedure

Council Meetings shall generally follow the rules of order stated in Section 2.a. of this Chapter, with the following differences:

      • Following any presentations and public comment on an agenda item, rather than inviting a motion, the Chair shall declare that, by rule, an implied motion is on the table, without need of a second, to affirmatively pass the measure under consideration and shall then invite discussion among Council members;
            • The affirmative nature of this implied motion does not signify that any Council member is necessarily in support of the measure;
      • Once discussion has concluded, no additional motion is necessary to approve the measure as currently constituted. If no other motion is on the table, such as a motion to amend, the Chair shall simply call for a vote on the implied motion.
      • If prior to a vote on the implied motion, a motion is approved that changes the original measure, such as a motion to amend, then the implied motion to approve shall then apply to the amended or updated measure.

(2) Consent Agenda

The purpose of the Consent Agenda is to quickly and efficiently handle agenda items that may not require further discussion, such as approval of:

      • Minutes;
      • Routine contracts or agreements that meet criteria set forth in ordinances and policies;
      • Resolutions or Ordinances that have been fully vetted in other meetings; and
      • Other items that require formal approval, but do not need Council Meeting discussion.

The following rules govern the placement of items on the Consent Agenda:

      • Approval of Council Meeting minutes will automatically appear on the Consent Agenda, unless the Council Chair directs otherwise;
      • Items that legally require a public hearing may not appear on the Consent Agenda; and
      • Other items may be placed on the Consent Agenda by unanimous vote of the Council Members at a prior meeting or by the Council Chair.
            • A motion to place an item on a Council Meeting agenda must specify if the item is intended to be on the Consent Agenda. Otherwise, the item will be placed on the regular agenda.
            • The Council Chair may not place an item on the Consent Agenda if the Council has already voted to place it on the regular agenda.

Once placed on the Consent Agenda, items shall be handled as follows:

      • The Council Chair shall introduce the Consent Agenda and list all the items that are currently on the Consent Agenda;
      • The Chair shall then ask if any Council Member desires to remove any item from the Consent Agenda;
      • Any item that is removed by a Council Member shall be handled individually following the conclusion of the Consent Agenda;
            • During the Public Comment period, a member of the audience may encourage that an item be removed from the Consent Agenda, but the item will remain on the Consent Agenda unless a Council Member requests removal.
      • If there are items remaining on the Consent Agenda, the Council Chair shall, without discussion or the need for a motion, call for a vote to collectively approve all the remaining Consent Agenda items.
      • If four or more Council Members vote for approval, all items on the Consent Agenda are approved.
      • If the Consent Agenda is not approved in this manner, then any Consent Agenda items shall be handled individually as part of the regular agenda.

(3) Consideration of Planning Commission Items

An agenda item coming forward from the Planning Commission for Council consideration shall be handled as follows:

      • It will normally be considered in Council Meeting on the same day it is presented in Work Meeting. It is intended that the noticing done by Planning Commission staff prior to Planning Commission consideration will also include notice of this meeting.
            • Deviations from this schedule may be approved by the Chair or the majority of the Council.
            • If the Council will not consider the item at the noticed meeting, the new date for consideration of the item will be stated on the agenda for the originally noticed meeting and/or announced by the Chair during that meeting.
      • If heard in Council Meeting for the first time on the same day it is heard in Work Meeting, the item will automatically be continued to the next Council Meeting if any Council Member so desires.
            • Accordingly, following the presentation and consideration of the item, the Council Chair will ask if any Council Member desires to consider the item again at the next meeting.
                  • If any member responds affirmatively, the item will automatically be continued to the next regularly scheduled meeting, unless a motion is made to set a different date.
                  • If no member responds affirmatively, the Chair will entertain motions and/or call for a vote on the implied motion as otherwise provided in these rules.
      • Notwithstanding the above, the item will also automatically be continued to the next regularly scheduled Council Meeting for additional consideration unless, no later than 6:00 pm on the Thursday prior to the first consideration of the item by the Council:
            • The Planning Commission Report of Action for the item has been finalized and made available to Council members; and
            • Any proposed ordinance or ordinance amendment has been reviewed by Council Staff and made available to Council members.