Resident's Guide to a Borough Council Meeting
Prepared for residents of Bernardsville Borough, April 2018
Welcome to a Bernardsville Borough Council meeting! This document has been prepared to explain how the meeting is structured, how the agenda works, and to help you share your ideas and concerns with the Council and Mayor.
The six-member Borough Council is the legislative body of municipal government. It is responsible for enacting our local ordinances (laws), adopting the budget, and setting Council policy through the passage of resolutions.
The Mayor, who is the head of the municipal government, presides at meetings of the Council and may vote to break a tie.
SETTING THE MEETING AGENDA
The agenda is prepared by the Council President, Mayor, and Borough Clerk with items proposed by the Borough Council and the Borough Administration. Prior to the meeting, the agenda is posted in the municipal building and on the web site and mailed to those who request it.
Public comment is an important part of the Borough Council's proceedings. Public comment is invited on two occasions during regular meetings and once during work sessions.
During a “work session,” which occurs during the first meeting of each month and is the period reserved for to discuss and debate policies and other matters, there is one public comment period at the end of the work session.
At the conclusion of regular meetings, additional “open” public comment is permitted on any issues.
When addressing the Council, please observe the following protocol to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to speak:
- Come forward to the podium when you speak.
- Wait to be recognized by the Mayor.
- State your name and address for the official record when requested.
- Direct your question or comment to the presiding officer.
- Limit your remarks to no more than three minutes.
ORDER OF THE AGENDA
- Call meeting to order
- Statement of Presiding Officer. (N.J.S.A. 10:4-6, et seq.)
- Pledge of Allegiance and optional opening message
- Approval of minutes
- Open session
- Report of Municipal Attorney
- Council Committee reports
- Items of business
- Open session
- Closed session (if needed)
The order of business may be individually set by the Clerk or presiding officer to suit the specific needs of such meetings, provided that the public shall always have at least one (1) opportunity to be heard.
THE THREE TYPES OF COUNCIL MEETINGS
There are three types of Council meetings, each of which has a different function and varies in its degree of public access and participation.
The first meeting of each month is designated as a work session. Work sessions are used for discussion of policy or similar matters There is one public comment period at the end of work session meetings and comments are limited to three minutes per person. Action may be taken at work sessions.
Discussions related to such topics as personnel, contract negotiations, and litigation are held in “closed” session. Neither public attendance nor input is permitted, but the , but, before going into closed session, the governing body must adopt a resolution stating the general nature of the subject to be discussed; and stating as precisely as possible, the time when and the circumstances under which the discussion conducted in closed session of the public body can be disclosed to the public.. Closed sessions are ordinarily held at the end of regular and work session meetings.
COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING SCHEDULE
The Borough Council meets every other Monday at 7:00 p.m. in the Municipal Building. Visit http://www.bernardsvilleboro.org/calendar/ for the current meeting schedule.
BOROUGH COUNCIL ORGANIZATION
Bernardsville is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprised of six members who are elected at-large on a partisan basis. The Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The six Borough Council members serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year during the November general election. The Borough form of government used by Bernardsville, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor may veto ordinances, subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the Council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for Council members, most of which are made with the advice and consent of the Council.
WATCH FROM HOME - LIVE AND ARCHIVED MEETINGS
Township Council meetings are broadcast live on our YouTube channel, where residents can also review video of previous meetings.
REMOTE PARTICIPATION BY ZOOM
To join the meeting remotely using Zoom, follow the instructions included in the calendar item details for the meeting you wish to join. You will join as a non-interactive participant who can see and hear the meeting, but your audio and video will not be displayed to others unless you are acknowledged by the mayor during one of the Public Comment sections of the meeting.
If you wish to speak during the Public Comment period of a Zoom meeting, use the "Raise Hand" command in your Zoom program. In the current version this appears under the "Reactions" menu on the Zoom control bar.