REVISED RULES AND ORDERS OF THE
RULE 1. MEETING
The regular meetings of the City Council shall be on the first and third Mondays of each month
at some time between 7:00 o'clock and 8:30 o'clock in the evening to be set by the Council.
Work sessions may commence at any time after 6:00 p.m. and the regular council meeting
may commence at any time after 7:00 p.m. (See Charter section 4.4). (AMENDED 4/2/90 TO
AGREE WITH THE CITY CHARTER) (AMENDED 1/9/06)
RULE 2. SPECIAL
Special meetings may be called by written request of five or more members of the Council, by
the Mayor, or by the City Manager.
The City Clerk shall prepare a notice of the special session stating the time and the place and
this notice shall be served personally upon each member of the Council and the City Manager,
or left at their usual place of residence at least twenty-four (24) hours before the time of the
It shall also be the duty of the City Clerk, immediately upon receipt of written request for a
special meeting to make every diligent effort to notify each member of the Council in person,
either by telephone or otherwise of such special session. The City Clerk shall also post
notices of the special meeting in a conspicuous place in City Hall and shall make every effort
to publicize the meeting by way of local news media. Only matters set forth in the notice of the
meeting shall be discussed and/or acted upon.
RULE 3. WORK
Upon request of the Mayor or five or more members of the Council, the Council may meet in
"work sessions." Each work session shall be devoted exclusively to subjects for which the
preliminary receipt and discussion of information is deemed appropriate. No formal vote shall
be taken on any matter under discussion, nor shall any Council member enter into a
commitment with another respecting the vote to be taken at a subsequent meeting of the
Council; provided, however, that nothing herein shall prevent a polling of the Council or the
taking of any informal vote on any matter under discussion. Work sessions shall be open to
the public, and notice procedures for regular meetings shall be followed.
RULE 4. COUNCIL
All reports, communications, ordinances, resolutions, or other matters to be submitted to the
Council shall, by 12:00 noon on Wednesday prior to each Council meeting be delivered to the
City Clerk whereupon the City Clerk shall immediately arrange or cause to be arranged a list of
such matters according to the Order of Business. Each member of the Council may place a
single item of business under the name of that Councilor unless further items are approved in
advance by the Mayor. The City Clerk shall furnish each member of the Council, City
Manager, and City Attorney with a copy of the Agenda by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday prior to each
Council meeting, and shall make copies of the Agenda available in the Office of City Clerk for
the public by that time. (AMENDED 1/5/98) (AMENDED 1/25/2016)
RULE 5. CALL
The Mayor shall take the chair at the hour appointed for the meeting and shall call the
members to order. A roll call shall be taken to determine if a quorum be present.
RULE 6. CHAIRING
In the absence of the Mayor, the Assistant Mayor shall preside during that meeting or until the
Mayor arrives. In the absence of both the Mayor and the Assistant Mayor, the Councilor
present who received the largest plurality in the last election shall preside during that meeting
or until the Mayor or Assistant Mayor arrives..
RULE 7. ORDER
The business of all regular
meetings of the Council shall be transacted in the following order, unless the
Council by vote of at least two-thirds of the members present, shall suspend
the rules and change the order:
Call to Order
[7:00 p.m. or thereafter]
Hearings on Ordinances and/or Resolutions
of Resolutions and Ordinances
and Consideration of Written Communications and Petitions
Communications from City Officials
A. CITY MANAGER
Items Which Require Action Under Other Sections of the Agenda
City Manager’s Items Which Require Action
C. CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
(A single item of business per Council member unless further items are
approved in advance by the Mayor.)
XV. Miscellaneous Business Including Business Remaining Unfinished at Previous Meeting
XVI. Adjournment [at 10:00 p.m. or earlier]
(ADOPTED NEW ORDER OF BUSINESS 1/9/06) (AMENDED 1/25/2016)
RULE 8. CONSIDERATION
When a motion is made and seconded, it shall be considered by the Council, and not
RULE 9. WRITTEN
Every motion shall be reduced to writing if the Chair so directs; or if any member of the Council
requests it; and upon request of any member the roll call shall be called upon any question
before the Council.
RULE 10. DIVISION OF
The Division of a question may be called for when the motion contains two or more
When the reading of a paper is called for and the same is objected to by any member, it shall
be determined by vote of the Council.
RULE 12. ADJOURNMENT
TThe Chair shall consider a motion to adjourn always in order, the time of the next meeting
having been agreed on. Such motion shall be decided without debate.
RULE 13. DISPOSITION OF
After a motion is seconded, and stated by the Chair, it shall be disposed of by vote of the
Council unless the mover withdraws it before a decision or amendment.
RULE 14. MOTIONS DURING
When a question is under debate, only the following motions shall be received: Adjourn; take
a recess; raise a question of privilege; call for orders of the day; lay on the table; the previous
question; limit or extend limits of debate; postpone definitely or to a certain time; commit or
refer or recommit; amend; postpone indefinitely; questions of order and appeal; suspend the
rules; object to consideration of questions; division of a question; division of the assembly.
RULE 15. ORDER OF
The Chair shall put all questions in the order in which they are moved, unless the subsequent
motion shall be previous in its nature; except in naming sums and fixing times, the largest sum
and the longest time shall be put first.
RULE 16. MOTION FOR
A motion for the reconsideration of a vote shall be open to debate, but such motion shall not be
considered unless made by a member voting with the majority, nor unless such motion is
made at the meeting at which such vote is passed, or notice of such motion is given at said
meeting, in which case the motion shall be made at the next meeting; and only one motion for
the reconsideration of any vote shall be permitted.
RULE 17. TABLING
No motion which has been tabled at a current or prior Council meeting may be acted upon
after being removed from the table at a current meeting; but such action must be withheld until
the next regular Council meeting which agenda will show the item of business.
RULE 18. SPEAKING PRIORITY
When two or more members rise at once, the Chair shall then name the member who is
entitled to the floor.
RULE 19. SPEAKING
When any member is about to speak in debate or to deliver any matter to the Council, and
respectfully address the presiding officer; the member shall confine themself to the question
under debate, and avoid personalities. The member shall sit down as soon as done speaking.
(AMENDED 4/2/90) (AMENDED 1/10/2000)
RULE 20. INTERRUPTION OF SPEAKING
No member shall be interrupted by another, but by rising to a call to order, to correct a mistake,
or for explanation. But if any member in speaking, or otherwise, transgress the Rules of the
Council, the Mayor shall or any member may call the offending member to order who shall
immediately sit down, unless permitted to explain; and the Council, if appealed to, shall decide
on the case, and without debate.
RULE 21. CONFLICTS OF
No member shall vote or serve on any committee or any question as to which the member has
a direct, personal and pecuniary interest..
RULE 22. VOTING REQUIRED
Every member present when a question is put, if not excluded by interest, shall vote. No
member shall leave a meeting without permission, if their presence is necessary to make a
RULE 23. COMMITTEE
Except for the committees created solely by the Mayor, the Mayor shall submit for approval by
the City Council all nominations of non City Councilors to committees. All nominations shall be
laid on the table until the next regularly scheduled Council meeting. The Mayor shall make all
appointments of the City Councilors to committees.
*(ADOPTED 1/22/96; AMENDED 1/17/2012; AMENDED 1/13/2014)
RULE 24. COMMITTEE
No member shall be obliged to be on more than two committees at the same time nor to be
chairman of more than one.
RULE 25. SPECIAL
COMMITTEES AND COMMITTEE RESPONSIBILITIES
All special committees of the Council shall consist of three members, unless a different number
be ordered. It shall be the duty of every committee of the Council to whom a subject is
specially referred to report thereon within the time limit set by the Council or to request an
extension thereof. No report shall be received unless presented in writing, signed by a
majority of the committee and agreed to in committee actually assembled.
RULE 26. COMMITTEE
No Committee shall sit during the sitting of the Council without special leave
RULE 27. COMMITTEE OF THE
The City Council may resolve itself of the Whole, at any time, upon a motion of a member
made for the purpose; and in forming a Committee of the Whole, the Mayor may leave the
Chair and appoint some member to preside in the Committee; and when the Committee of the
Whole shall have gone through the subject referred to them, they shall rise, and the
Chairperson, or any other member that the Committee may order, shall report their
proceedings to the Council.
RULE 28. COMMITTEE OF THE
The rules of proceedings in the Council shall be observed in Committee of the Whole, so far as
they may be applicable; but no member shall speak twice to any question until every member
choosing to speak shall have spoken.
RULE 29. ORDINANCES
All bylaws passed by the City Council shall be termed "ordinances", and the enacting style
shall be: "The City of Portsmouth Ordains." Each ordinance shall be identified by a number
and a short title, and the effective date shall be specified in it.
RULE 30. ORDINANCE
Each Ordinance shall pass through the following stages, to wit: There shall be a first reading
for information. If the first reading is passed, the Council shall, consistent with public notice
requirements of law, set a time and place for a public hearing and consideration of second and
third readings. An ordinance may be rejected at any stage in its progress. No ordinance shall
be amended except on second reading. Passage of the third reading shall constitute final
RULE 31. ORDERS AND
In all votes by which the City Council shall express anything by way of command the form of
expression shall be "Ordered" and whenever it shall express opinions, principles, facts or
purposes, the form shall be "Resolved." Resolutions prepared in writing prior to introduction
shall be identified by a short title.
RULE 32. TAXING, SPENDING,
Each order or resolution authorizing the levying of a tax, the expenditure of money, or the
borrowing of money shall have two separate readings and a public hearing with notice as
required by law.
RULE 33. RECORD RETENTION
OF RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES
When an ordinance or resolution shall have passed the City Council, it shall receive the
signature of the Mayor. It shall be enrolled in the City records of the City Clerk, and the
original ordinance or resolution shall be placed in some safe deposit in the archives of the City.
RULE 34. CITY CLERK
The City Clerk shall attend all Council meetings, except work sessions and executive sessions,
and shall keep a record of procedures of the Council by recording the motions and votes
thereon. The City Clerk shall make notes of the general content of the remarks by members of
the Council, the Mayor, and the City Manager and not their specific detail. The City Clerk shall
note in the minutes all reports, memorials and other papers submitted to the Council by their
title or brief description of the purport. The City Clerk shall cause to be recorded through the
use of appropriate recording device the business of all Council meetings, said recordings to be
maintained by the City Clerk as a public record for a period of three years. Preservation of the
recordings and custody of all recordings shall be the sole responsibility of the City Clerk who
shall prepare such rules for use as the Clerk deems necessary or appropriate to the discharge
of the above responsibility.
RULE 35. SEATING
ARRANGEMENT DURING COUNCIL MEETINGS
Council seats shall be assigned by the Mayor. Council members who wish to exchange seats
may do so upon request to the Mayor. Seating arrangement may be changed at any time the
Mayor wishes. (AMENDED 10/29/90)
RULE 36. PROCEDURE FOR
QUESTIONS TO THE CITY ATTORNEY
Whenever a City Councilor has a question of the City Attorney, during a City Council Meeting,
on the Council Rules, the Portsmouth City Charter or on Parliamentary Procedure, they shall,
through the Chair, be given the immediate right to state their question.
COUNCIL MEETINGS TO CONCLUDE
City Council meetings shall conclude no later than 10:30 P.M. or at such time as any agenda
item being discussed at 10:00 P.M. is acted upon. Any agenda items under the name of the
City Manager which have not been voted upon by the Council as of 10:00 p.m. shall be treated
thereafter as Consent Agenda items, applying Council Rule 46 as completely as the situation
allows. If because of this rule any agenda items remain to be taken up, the Council shall
recess the meeting to a time certain at which recessed meeting the remainder of the agenda
shall be acted upon unless a majority of the Council wishes to suspend in order to continue.
(AMENDED 1/9/06) (AMENDED 1/25/2016)
RULE 38. NOTICE TO COUNCIL
REGARDING APPOINTMENT QUALIFICATIONS
All nominees to positions on
boards or commissions of the City shall submit in writing, on a form as
provided by the City Clerk, information regarding their occupational
backgrounds, the nature of their nominations, and their reasons for wishing to
serve. Such form shall accompany
the agenda in which the nomination is to be made and shall be delivered to City
Council members in accordance with Rule No. 4.
RULE 39. SUSPENSION OF
No standing rule or order of the Council shall be suspended unless a two-thirds majority of the
members of the Council present shall consent thereto, for a specific purpose; nor shall any rule
or order be repealed or amended without one week's notice being given of the motion
therefore, or unless a two-thirds majority of the Council shall concur therein.
RULE 40. PARLIAMENTARY
Except where specifically controlled by Charter, Statute, Ordinance or these Rules,
proceedings of the City Council shall be conducted pursuant to the parliamentary authority of
the most recent revision of Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, published by Scott,
Foresman & Co.
RULE 41. ADDRESS BY PUBLIC
Members of the public-at-large may address the Council on any issue being discussed by the
Council after a motion to allow same has been made by any Council member and passed by a
majority vote, provided that no person shall speak for more than five (5) minutes.
RULE 42. PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO
All letters, memos, reports and other information provided or circulated to the City Council by
staff members or received as communications to the Mayor and City Council from any person
shall be included with the Agenda packet of a City Council meeting and made publicly
available by 5:00 p.m. on Friday prior to each Council meeting, or if sent separately to Council
members shall be made publicly available in the Office of City Clerk. Exempt under this Rule
are those documents which would not be deemed public records under the New Hampshire
Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A) or personal communications. (AMENDED 1/27/92)
RULE 43. PUBLIC COMMENT
A public comment session shall appear on the agenda of all regular Council meetings. This
session shall be a period of time not to exceed forty-five minutes during which any member of
the public may have three minutes to address any single topic which that member of the public
has identified to the City Clerk prior to the commencement of the meeting. Comments shall be
limited to one topic per person per meeting. All speakers must register in person (not
electronically or telephonically) with the City Clerk prior to the City Council meeting. Any
person abusing the provisions of this rule may be prohibited from speaking at future public
comment sessions by a majority vote of the City Council. Any provision of this rule may be
modified on a per case basis by majority vote of the Council. (ADOPTED 3/12/90) (AMENDED
1/5/98) (AMENDED 4/17/2000) (AMENDED 1/24/2005)
* Comments for which a public
hearing is scheduled under the same agenda shall not be permitted.
reserves the right to select speakers of different issues to be permitted to
speak in order to provide a form of various topics to be presented. *(ADOPTED
RULE 44. NAMING OF
, PARKS AND FACILITIES
The procedure to be followed in naming municipal buildings, parks and facilities shall be that a
written request be submitted to the Mayor by the City Councilors or resident who proposes the
naming of any municipal building, park or facility. The Council shall then schedule a work
session to deliberate concerning that request. In general, it shall be deemed inappropriate to
name complete municipal buildings after actual persons, although portions of buildings may be
so named. Subsequent to the work session, the request shall then be placed on the next
available Council agenda for a vote of the full City Council. (ADOPTED 8/14/2000)
RULE 45. PUBLIC HEARINGS
City Council public hearings shall be subject to the following terms and conditions:
A. The order in which speakers shall be called, the duration of time permitted for
each person to speak and the number of opportunities which any person shall be
provided to speak on any issue may be regulated by the Mayor in the interest of
B. All speakers must limit their presentation to the issue for which the public hearing
has been called. Any speaker not in compliance with this provision shall be ruled
out of order by the Mayor.
RULE 46. CONSENT AGENDA
The agenda for any regular meeting of the City Council may include a section entitled
“Consent Agenda”. The Consent Agenda shall consist of items of City Council business which
the Mayor, the City Manager and the City Clerk have previously determined to be routine in
nature. All Consent Agenda items shall identify the action which it is anticipated will be taken
by the City Council on it. Any item of business shall be removed from the Consent Agenda
and placed elsewhere on the Council agenda for the same meeting at the request of any
member of the City Council. All recommended actions on Consent Agenda items shall be
deemed to have been taken by the City Council on the passage of a motion, “to adopt the
Consent Agenda”. (ADOPTED 1/9/06).