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Please refer to the Board and Commission Manual for more information. Any resident of the city may be considered a candidate for appointment to boards, committees and commissions. Applicants complete an application form stating their interests and background information. Appointments on boards, committees or commissions are announced by the Mayor at regular City Council meetings. Applications for these appointive positions are available at the City Clerk’s office and on the city’s website. The completed applications are reviewed by the Mayor, who recommends appointees to the Council. Final appointment is made by an affirmative vote of a majority of the City Council.
(A) Purpose of committees, boards and commissions.
(1) As permitted by the Iowa Code and the code of ordinances, the Mayor and/or the City Council may create committees, boards and commissions to assist with such public duties as the Council may specify. All Council members, the Mayor, City Administrator and City Attorney are welcome to attend any meeting of a committee, board or commission. Notice of committee, board and commission meetings will be given to the entire Council and the Mayor and posted for the public.
(2) Any special or ad-hoc committee will be formally approved by the City Council. When a board, committee or commission is established by the City Council, the specific duties of the group are set forth in the ordinance or resolution which created it. An advisory body is limited to consideration of those matters specifically assigned to it. If a commission, board or committee determines its activities should be expanded beyond its existing authority, the commission, board or committee should formally request specific authorization from the City Council to consider the additional matters and to formulate recommendations accordingly.
(3) Special committees shall report their findings and recommendations in writing. All recommendations shall be approved by a majority of the committee before presentation to the City Council as a whole, though a minority report and recommendation may likewise be made, and the Council shall consider both reports. Committees will make reports to the City Council as requested by the Council. All committee recommendations, decisions or proposed actions shall be subject to the final approval and adoption of the City Council. Upon submission of a final report to the City Council, the special or ad-hoc committee shall dissolve, unless tasked with additional work by the Council.
(4) Special committees of the City Council shall be empowered to require the attendance of witnesses, and for that purpose, the chairperson of such committee is authorized to issue subpoenas. Subpoenas shall be provided to the Chief of Police, who shall immediately cause service of the same on the summoned individuals, in the usual manner required by law.
(B) Membership and selections. Membership and selection of members shall be as provided by the Mayor and the City Council if not specified by the Code of Iowa or the code of ordinances. No committee so appointed shall have powers other than advisory to the City Council or the City Administrator, except as otherwise specified by the code of ordinances or the Code of Iowa. Members of boards, committees and commissions should be independent of the City Council, or other boards, committees and commissions, and of other governmental units, so they may exercise unbiased judgment in addressing the tasks and issues before them.
(C) Gender balance. In 2009, the Iowa Legislature passed a law requiring appointive boards and commissions to be gender balanced by 2012, or as close as possible for boards and commissions with an uneven number of members. Only after making a good faith effort for 90 days to find sufficient volunteers to create gender balance may the city proceed to fill positions in a manner which does not evenly balance boards and commissions.
(D) Ineligible appointments. The following persons shall not be eligible for appointments to standing boards, committees or commissions of the city:
(1) Spouse, child, mother, father, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepmother, stepfather, stepchild, aunt or uncle of a current City Council member; or
(2) A current member of a comparable county board, committee or commission, unless dual or joint memberships are provided for in the ordinance, resolution or statute, which creates the board, committee or commission to which appointment is being made.
(E) Council and commission effectiveness. The City Council and all appointed advisory boards, committees and commissions are policy-oriented groups. The advisory groups operate as satellite units, which focus on particular concerns, issues or problems in the community. When an advisory board, committee or commission has an item on a City Council meeting agenda, a representative from that body shall be present at the City Council meeting. Similarly, when a member of any board, committee or commission addresses the City Council at a public meeting, he or she should always clearly state whether he or she is speaking on behalf of the advisory group or as an individual.
(F) Interactions with City Council; procedural guidelines. The City Council considers input and recommendations from a variety of sources in its decision-making process. Therefore, the Council may not always follow the specific recommendations of any one particular board, committee or commission in adopting policy or procedure. Once the Council has established its position, members of advisory groups may continue to have reservations or individual objections. As representatives of the larger group, however, members should remember they are expected to act in a manner consistent with the established policy and/or program as approved by the City Council.
(G) Council policy on legislative issues.
(1) The City Council is ultimately responsible for establishing city policy and determines the public position of the city on legislative matters. Therefore, commissions, boards or committees shall not issue public statements on legislation pending before the City Council, unless said statements are reviewed and approved by the Council.
(2) This policy is not intended to prevent advisory groups from carrying out their normal functions publicly and openly; rather, its purpose is to establish that boards, committees and commissions do not issue policy statements or take public positions which fall within the purview of the City Council.
(H) Submitting a formal request for consideration; procedure. In the event a board, committee or commission wishes to request the City Council endorse or approve a particular position or idea formulated by the board, committee or commission, said request should first be reflected in the minutes of the meeting of the board, committee or commission at which the action was approved. Following such action, the board, committee or commission’s secretary or staff liaison should submit a written request to the City Council, with a copy to the City Administrator’s office for inclusion on the agenda of an upcoming Council committee or City Council meeting. In the interim, copies of the request will be made available to all Council members. The communication should include the degree of urgency and a specific statement of the action requested.
(I) Relations with the public. Council members and members of appointed boards, committees or commissions are encouraged to maintain awareness of public opinion. Citizen input should be welcomed and heard at meetings, and members should be considerate of all interests, attitudes and differences of opinion. Members should be vigilant about maintaining not only the appearance, but also the principle of impartiality.
(J) Conflicts of interest.
(1) To determine whether an applicant to a board, commission or committee has a conflict of interest, applicants should review I.A.C. Chs. 362.5, 362.6 and 403A. Assistance is available from the City Attorney’s office if applicants have questions about this matter.
(2) In the event a City Council member determines that he or she has a direct, definite (demonstrable) conflict of interest regarding an issue before the Council, that conflict should be clearly stated at the beginning of Council deliberations. Council members should consult the City Attorney, or private counsel of their own choosing, prior to deliberating or voting on a matter on which the Council member believes he or she may have a conflict of interest. The matter of what constitutes a “conflict of interest” is often misunderstood and misstated. People elected to public office are frequently motivated to seek office because of their personal interest in certain issues. The mere fact that their lives may generally be affected, either positively or negatively, by a decision of the City Council does not, by itself, create a conflict of interest. Rather, a legally significant conflict of interest stems from a conflict between a direct, definite and demonstrable personal interest of the Council member (particularly pecuniary, business or familial) and the judgment the Council member must exercise in the matter to be decided. Whether a conflict of interest exists can only be determined by applying the individual facts to the law. Again, Council members should consult legal counsel if in doubt about a conflict of interest issue.
(3) Another matter arises from time to time which may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Elected officials are frequently solicited to join such organizations as the Chamber of Commerce, Marshall Economic Development and the like. Participation in these organizations results in an exchange of valuable information and views. Nevertheless, when such an organization takes a position in favor of or in resistance to a proposal pending before the City Council, at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest exists. It may appear to the layperson that membership in the organization involved would create an irreconcilable conflict of interest. A case might be made that a City Council member has a conflict of interest while he or she is a member of an organization, if that organization appears before the City Council and takes an official position on an issue. Under such circumstances, it may be advisable for elected officials to abstain from voting on that issue. Again, consultation with legal counsel is advised.
(4) City officers or employees are restricted by I.A.C. § 362.5 with regard to direct or indirect benefits they may receive from any contract performed for the city. That code section provides as follows: “A city officer or employee shall not have an interest, direct or indirect, in any contract or job of work, or material, or the profits thereof, or services to be furnished or performed for the officers or employees of the city. A contract entered into in violation of this section is void.”
(1) The state covers restrictions of gifts in I.A.C. Ch. 68B. Any questions regarding the acceptance of gifts should be directed to the City Attorney.
(2) The City Council feels it is important to recognize special achievements among its citizens and employees. For that reason, the Council has authorized the purchase of plaques, certificates and memorabilia for the purpose of distinguishing special service. City staff is authorized to purchase such materials as necessary to carry out this policy.
(L) Communications between staff, City Council and advisory groups.
(1) The City Hall administrative staff report to the City Administrator and it is the City Administrator’s responsibility to direct and allocate staff time. Similarly, City Council members and board, committee and commission members schedule their meetings so city staff may be available to carry out day-to-day business. The City Administrator will assign staff liaisons to assist boards, committees and commissions as necessary. Boards, committees and commissions meet regularly and, as a group, present their issues and concerns to the City Council through reports and recommendations.
(2) Advisory groups will consider the recommendations and proposals of the City Administrator and city staff. If the board, committee or commission is not in agreement with the recommendations of the city staff, the City Administrator should describe any difference of opinion in writing to the City Council. Any differences of opinion may be discussed at the Council meeting.
(M) Removal of members of boards and commissions. If the Mayor or the City Council wishes to remove an appointee, they shall follow the procedures required by state law or city code.
(N) Abolishment of a board or commission. The abolishment or modification of a board or commission shall be done in accordance with applicable state law or city code.
(Res. 2017-287, passed 10-9-2017)