Regular Boards and Committees meetings are held according to the Boards and Committee's adopted schedule.
Special meetings may be called when needed for the transaction of business. The calling of all meetings must satisfy the requirements of the Town Charter, Ordinances and State and Federal Laws, and meetings will be conducted using Robert's Rules of Order. Business may take place only at special or regular meetings if a quorum of the Board's and Committee's members is present.
Purchases relating to or in conjunction with the work of the Boards and Committees may be made using the Board's and Committee's budgeted funds. Once a majority of the Boards and Committees at a meeting votes in favor of expenditure or grants the Chairperson the authority to purchase, the procurement must be approved by town staff (and Town Manager based on amount). This helps assure that the funds, which are public funds, are expended in accordance with applicable laws and Town financial procedures.
All Boards and Committees meetings are open to the public and must be held in a publicly owned building or facility that accommodates ADA requirements. Most meetings should have an agenda posted prior to the meeting. Location of the agenda posting is at the Municipal Complex 200 Rogers Road Extension. An additional posting should take place at the building or facility that the meeting is actually held if it is not the Municipal Complex. All agendas should have the basic information of the Meeting date, location (including room number), time and items to be discussed.
Meeting Cancellation Policy
A Chairperson of a Board or Committee who finds their meeting of the Board and Committee requires cancellation, shall notify their staff or Council liaison person or the Town Manager's staff of the cancellation. The posted agenda will be replaced with a notice of cancellation at each of the posting locations. During inclement weather, the Town Manager may close the Municipal Complex for safety reasons. When that occurs, meetings scheduled for that day will be cancelled. The Town Manager's staff will notify the affected Board's and/or Committee's chairperson.
Executive Sessions should be rarely used and are regulated as to their use. The following are the only reasons for calling an executive session:
Reason for Executive Session Statutory Citation
1. Personnel Matters 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(A)
2. Suspension or expulsion of a public school student 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(B)
3. Acquisition of real property or economic development 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(C)
4. Labor negotiations 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(D)
5. Consultations with legal counsel 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(E)
6. Discussion of confidential records 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(F)
(However, this section of the Freedom of Access Act at present does not also reference each of the State laws that make these records confidential, and this reference should be added to make the citation complete. Legislative staff is supposed to prepare a bill for the Legislature to enact that will list all of these records that are made confidential by statute, but until such an amendment is passed, consult your municipal attorney or MMA Legal Services for the legal citation to the statute that makes a particular record confidential.)
7. Discussion of examination results 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(G)
8. Consultation with code enforcement officer on pending 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(H) enforcement matter in District Court
9. 36 M.R.S.A. § 841(2) requires that hearings and proceedings related to poverty abatements be held in executive session.
If an Executive Session is being considered, it should be a meeting agenda item that clearly indicates the purpose of the Executive Session. An open meeting motion is required to enter and exit from the Executive Session. The motion to go into the Executive Session must state one, or more, as necessary, of the nine above reasons and must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. During the Executive Session, no minutes or votes can take place. Those allowed into the session are board members, staff/ Committee consultant, Town Attorney and others that the board believes are proper to discuss the issue. Boards and Committees should refrain from using Executive Sessions without first consulting the Town Manager or Town Attorney before scheduling an Executive Session.
Conflict of Interest (See Appendix on this issue)
Committee/Board by-laws or rules should be consistent with Town ordinances and State statutes including the guidance of this handbook
In general, records created or received by members of Boards and Committees (regardless of their form) concerning Town business or Town related issues are public records with the exception of certain personnel information or issues and Legal Counsel's internal guidance correspondence to Boards and Committees on a specific issue and must be available to the public for review. In those areas where documents are thought to be confidential, please obtain an opinion from the Town Manager or Town Attorney.
As noted above, the Town of Kittery is required by law to maintain public records. This is often most challenging when records are in the form of email. However, the law allows e-mails to be discoverable as part of litigation. All Boards and Committees e-mail communications should also be copied to your staff and Town Council liaison so that they are kept appropriately informed.
E-mail cannot be used as a means of discussion of town business between all or a quorum of members.
E-mail cannot be used to facilitate or form a "hub and spoke" communication whereby one member of a Board or Committee acts as a go-between disseminating communications between other Board and Committee members on matters that require action by the full Board at a public meeting.
E-mail cannot be used as a means of taking straw polls on town issues.
In summary, communications by e-mail cannot be used as a means of circumventing the right to know law. A Board or Committee member may use e-mail to distribute informational material to all other members as long as it is available to the general public. However, such distributions should not be made with the intent to initiate responses from other Committee /Board members. Any discussion of such informational communications should be reserved for public meetings. E-mail of informational material should be preserved in the manner provided above.
Confidential messages should never be sent electronically for two reasons; 1) messages may be sent to the wrong addressee, and 2) e-mail should always be used with the assumption that messages will be read by someone other than the intended recipient.
Public Information/Input vs. Advocating a Position
Boards and Committees are encouraged to obtain public input prior to making recommendations. However, Committees, and Committee /Board members in their official capacity, must be careful not to promote their position, whether for or against an issue. Information provided to the public during the public input process should be factually based.
Members of Boards and Committees are expected to attend all meetings. Members missing a meeting or multiple meetings should inform the Chairperson of their absence and reason(s). It is the duty of the chairperson to notify the Staff or Town Council liaison when this occurs. If members of Boards and Committees are unable to continue service due to health, missing multiple consecutive meetings, business requirements, personal reasons, or moving out of Town, they should submit a formal letter of resignation to the Town Council. Advance notice is appreciated so that advertising can be done to obtain a replacement.
A record of resolutions, transactions, findings and other determinations shall be kept by the Board or Committee secretary, staff or Council liaison. Board and/or Committee meetings are sometimes taped to facilitate the preparation of minutes. The written minutes are the official record of the proceedings. Minutes of both regular and special meetings must be prepared.
The minutes must contain the following: the members of the Boards and Committees and staff who were present; the time the meeting convenes and adjourns; a description of the items discussed; the names and addresses of the people who have spoken at the meeting and their opinion for or against a decision. The minutes of all meetings should be reviewed as soon as possible after receipt and approved by the members of the Boards and Committees at their next regular meeting. Findings of facts are also involved with certain boards and committees and should be reviewed when the minutes are presented.
Minutes are not a verbatim transcription of meetings. Lengthy discussions are often briefly summarized. When reviewing the minutes, members of Boards and Committees should check to make sure that they reflect the meeting overall, that the direction given or motions made are correct. Any major revisions (changes in content) needed must be made at the time the minutes are being considered for approval. Minor revisions such as grammar or spelling errors should be given to staff in advance or at the beginning of the meeting in which the minutes are being considered for approval. Minor revisions do not require a motion.
Copies of minutes of meetings should be submitted to the Town Clerk's office for official record-keeping purposes at the Town Office to be available for public review. Electronic and/or paper copies are to be submitted.
Role of the Chair
The chair is the key to the proper functioning of any Board and Committee. The chair has the important responsibility of ensuring that the meetings operate efficiently and he or she maintains the unity of the Boards and Committees. Consequently, the election of the chair should be viewed as an important Boards and Committees task. Although any member of the Boards and Committees may request an agenda item, it is the Chair's responsibility to work closely with the staff to develop the meeting agendas and review the requested agenda items from the other members of the Boards and Committees. In Kittery, the chair and vice chair are elected from among the members for a one-year term by the Boards and Committees.
There are some general rules for an effective chair:
1. The chairperson shall use Robert's Rules of Order in conducting the meetings.
2. The chairperson should attempt to educate the public as to the process and policies of the Town.
3. The Board or Committee chair should see that consideration be given to major issues and not become sidetracked by insignificant concerns.
4. The chair should attempt to reach a consensus; however, non-consensus should not be allowed to delay voting on items indefinitely.
5. The chair should be the last member to give his/her opinion after all others have spoken.
6. The chairperson should be capable of representing his/her Board or Committee effectively to other groups. It is also important that the vice chair be an effective leader, since he/she will run the meeting in the chair's absence.
Public Hearing Procedures
Public hearings may be held at any Boards and Committees meeting, but will usually take place at the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board meetings. The rules for public hearings listed below have been prepared to give you guidance in conducting a Public Hearing.
It is recommended that if a member misses all or part of a public hearing, the member should abstain from voting on the matter unless he/she has become familiar with all the evidence presented at the hearing. It is suggested that the member listen to a tape recording of the hearing (if available), examine all written materials, and state at the meeting that he/she has done so and feels competent to vote on the item.
Conducting a Public Hearing
1. The chair states the purpose of the Public Hearing.
2. If requested, the staff gives an oral report explaining the action requested, the facts and issues, and the staff report.
3. If applicable, the applicant gives his/her presentation on the issue.
4. The chair acknowledges any correspondence about the application that has been received.
5. The public hearing is opened.
6. Members of the public are heard. All interested speakers are given an opportunity to speak once before speakers are heard a second time. The Chairperson has many responsibilities, including assessing the time allocated for public comments. Time management is required by the Chair to properly run an effective hearing and attempts should be made to control repetitive comments.
7. Applicants and members of the public are given the opportunity to rebut earlier comments.
8. The public hearing is closed. Action is not taken during public hearings. A separate action item will either be listed on that same agenda, or on a later agenda for consideration.
Suggestions for Speakers
1. All speakers will be expected to state their name and address for the record. If a number of speakers are present, each speaker may be asked to file a written statement of their concerns with the Town Staff.
2. Questions for Board and Committee members, other people in the audience, and the staff should be directed through the Chairperson.
3. As much as possible, speakers should express their comments concisely and briefly, with the exception of public hearings. The Chair may designate a specific amount of time for each speaker. The Chair should make sure sufficient time is allocated to speakers for Board /Committee members to understand the facts or concerns being presented. If the number of people wishing to speak necessitates, groups may be asked, but not required, to designate a spokesperson for the group.