St. Francis City Councilmember Mike Haggard May 6 questioned if it was appropriate to bring a nuisance ordinance amendment back to the table for a new vote after it failed to pass March 18.
Haggard had been the only council member to vote against the ordinance at the March 18 meeting. However, Mayor Jerry Tveit had been absent from that meeting, resulting in a three-fourths vote, one short of the four-fifths required to pass ordinance amendments.
Tveit had asked that the issue be put back on the agenda for a new first reading at the council’s April 1 meeting, when the council approved the ordinance amendment 4-1, with Haggard again opposed.
Before the vote on the second reading of the ordinance amendment on May 6, Haggard asked whether the city does in fact operate under Robert’s Rules of Order.
Tveit said it did.
“So if I’m understanding this correctly… it [the ordinance amendment] was already voted down once, and then on the next meeting it was put back on the agenda,” Haggard said. “And from what I’m reading in the Robert’s Rules of Order it can’t be put on that way.”
According to Tveit, it was his understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order that once an issue is voted down, the person who voted it down cannot request that it be put back on the agenda, but a person who did not vote it down can.
St. Francis City Attorney Scott Lepak said that Robert’s Rules of Order on this “does have some limitations.”
“I would also note that the city follows Robert’s Rules of Order in a manner that is not terribly strict,” he said.
“So what you’re saying then is that we do follow Robert’s Rule, but we don’t follow Robert’s Rule,” Haggard said.
“In order to run an orderly meeting, by and large Roberts Rules of Order are followed, but we don’t strictly adhere to them,” Lepak said.
In this particular case the mayor had not been present at the March 18 meeting, he said.
Since the vote was one that requires a four-fifths to pass and such a vote would not have been possible since a member was absent, “in my opinion this is proper for the council to do,” Lepak said.
“That’s our legal opinion,” Tveit said. “So, according to Mr. Lapek’s opinion this is a proper motion.”
The council voted 4-1 to approve the nuisance ordinance amendments, which are intended to make the city’s nuisance ordinance easier for the city to enforce. Haggard had challenged several of the specifics listed in the ordinance amendment at the council’s April 1 meeting.