Revised Rules & Orders of the Portsmouth City Council (as adopted by the City Council 01/16/2024)
RULE 1. MEETING NIGHTS
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 MEETINGS
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 party calling for the special meeting shall make every effort to schedule the meeting at a date no fewer than 7 days from the date the official notice is published to the City website if at all possible.
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 meeting.
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. A notice of he special meeting shall be posted on the city website. Only matters set forth in the notice of the meeting shall be discussed and/or acted upon.
RULE 3. WORK SESSIONS
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. Work sessions shall be open to the public, public comment will be allowed at the end of work sessions in order to provide feedback, and notice procedures for regular meetings shall be followed. (AMENDED 04/04/2022)
RULE 4. COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA
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. The Agenda shall be posted on the City website on the Friday prior to the Monday meeting. (AMENDED 1/5/98) (AMENDED 1/25/2016)
RULE 5. CALL TO ORDER
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 OF MEETING
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 OF BUSINESS
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:
Public Dialogue Session (when applicable - every other regularly scheduled meeting)
Call to Order [7:00 p.m. or thereafter]
Pledge of Allegiance
Acceptance of Minutes
Recognitions and Volunteer Committee Reports
Public Comment Session
Public Hearings and Votes on Ordinances and/or Resolutions
City Manager Action Items
Presentations and Consideration of Written Communications and Petitions
City Council Members (A City Council member may either speak to their item(s) previously placed on the agenda in accordance with Rule 4 or bring items that appears later on the meeting's agenda forward to be acted upon at this point)
Approval of Grants/Donations
City Manager's Informational Items
Miscellaneous Business Including Business Remaining Unfinished at Previous Meeting
Adjournment [at 10:00 p.m. or earlier]
(ADOPTED NEW ORDER OF BUSINESS 1/9/06; AMENDED 1/25/2016; AMENDED 08/21/2017; AMENDED 06/03/2019; AMENDED 03/02/2020)
RULE 8. CONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS
When a motion is made and seconded, it shall be considered by the Council, and not otherwise.
RULE 9. WRITTEN MOTIONS/ROLL CALL
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 QUESTION
The Division of a question may be called for when the motion contains two or more independent parts.
RULE 11. READING
This rule deliberately left open for future use.
RULE 12. ADJOURNMENT
The 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 MOTIONS
A. 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.
B. A friendly amendment is one in which the councilor amending the motion and the originator of the motion and the seconder agree on the change. Friendly amendments accepted by the originator of the motion shall be voted by the whole if any member of the council requests a vote on the amendment. (AMENDED 04/04/2022)
RULE 14. MOTIONS DURING DEBATE
When a question is under debate, only the following motions shall be received: Adjourn; take a recess; raise a question of personal 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 QUESTIONS
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 RECONSIDERATION
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 Mayor; the member shall confine themselves to the question under debate, and avoid personalities.
(AMENDED 4/2/90) (AMENDED 1/10/2000)
RULE 20. INTERRUPTION OF SPEAKING MEMBER
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 INTEREST
No member shall vote or serve on any committee or any question as to which the member has a direct, personal and pecuniary interest. (Note: There are additional provisions in the City Charter and Ethics Ordinance in relation to this rule.) (AMENDED 04/04/2022)
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.
RULE 23. COMMITTEE NOMINATION
Unless otherwise mandated by state law, charter or ordinance, 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 MEMBERSHIP
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 MEETINGS
This Rule deliberately left open for future use.
RULE 27. COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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, the Chairperson, or any other member that the Committee may order, shall report their proceedings to the Council.
RULE 28. COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS
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 PROCEDURE
Each Ordinance shall pass through the following stages: There shall be a first reading at which amendments may be made. If the ordinance passes first reading, the Council shall, consistent with public notice requirements of law, set a time and place for a public hearing and second reading. Amendments may also be made at second reading. If amendments materially change the ordinance under consideration, a new public hearing and second reading shall be scheduled. If the ordinance passes second reading, there shall be a third and final reading. Passage of third reading shall constitute final passage. An ordinance may be rejected at any stage in its process.
RULE 31. ORDERS AND RESOLUTIONS
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, AND BORROWING
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, including 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 arrange for the televising and broadcast over the internet of all regular meetings. 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. (AMENDED 04/04/2022)
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.
RULE 37. HOUR CITY 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 RULES
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 AUTHORITY
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 Public Affairs.
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 KNOW GUARANTEED
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)
In addition to the foregoing, any e-mails which are received by the City on behalf of the entire City Council shall be entered into the public record by the City Clerk. Any person addressing an e-mail to the entire City Council shall be provided with the option to have such person’s e-mail entered into the City Council packet and public comment record for the meeting. Only e-mails which include the name and address of the sender shall be provided to the City Council and thus be subject to the rule. Any public comment received by e-mail subject to this rule shall be updated after the Council agenda packet is released and prior to noontime on the day of the Council meeting to which the packet is addressed. Any public comments received after such noontime deadline shall be distributed to the individual Councilors, but shall not become part of the public record of the meeting. (ADDED 08/21/2017)
RULE 43. PUBLIC COMMENT SESSION
A. Public Comment:
A Public Comment session shall appear on the agenda of every regular Council meeting. 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 topic which that member of the public has identified to the City Clerk prior to the commencement of the meeting. Speakers shall be limited to one three minute comment period per person per meeting and may not defer any of their allotted speaking time to any other person. All speakers must register in person (not electronically or telephonically) with the City Clerk prior to the City Council meeting. The playing of music, videos, or the recordings of other is prohibited. Residents, business owners and taxpayers of the City shall be given speaking priority over any other speaker. All speakers must give their home address at the time of their speaking. 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. (AMENDED 02/20/2018; AMENDED 09/18/2023)
* Comments for which a public hearing is scheduled under the same agenda shall not be permitted.
- The Chair 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.
B. Public Dialogue:
The City Council reserves the right to hold a noticed Public Dialogue session including at locations other than City Hall. At such Council - Public Dialogue Sessions, no more than three members of the Council shall be present along with the City Manager (or designee) and any appropriate staff as determined by the City Manager. The purpose of this session is to provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly interact with members of the Council, the City Manager and any appropriate staff as determined by the City Manager from time to time. Councilors shall report back on the dialogue session at the next regularly scheduled city council meeting. The Mayor shall determine which Council members participate in each public dialogue session on a rotational basis, with the requirement that all City Councilors participate in at least one public dialogue session in a calendar year. (AMENDED 02/20/2018) (AMENDED 04/04/2022)
RULE 44. NAMING OF MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS , 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 legislative efficiency.
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.
C. The order of presentation of all public hearings shall be as follows:
1. Any additions to presentation given at first meeting related to the public hearing offered by the City Administration
2. City Council questions and deliberation regarding the subject matter of the public hearing
3. Public hearing speakers
4. Additional Council questions and deliberations
D. Subsequent to the process described above, any public hearing which results in the requirement of a City Council vote shall be immediately followed by that vote
(ADOPTED 5/6/2002; AMENDED 05/01/2017; AMENDED 08/21/2017)
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).
RULE 47. APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
All vacancies on Boards and Commissions shall be publicly advertised. Unless otherwise required by statute or ordinance, the Mayor shall only bring forward for reappointment to any Board or Commission the name of any person on the same Board or Commission if such position have been public advertised prior to the effective date of the requested reappointment. (Adopted 03/19/2018) (AMENDED 04/04/2022)