Frequently Asked Questions - Administration

Administration
This information has been prepared to provide you with a brief outline of how a meeting of the Fort Smith Board of Directors is conducted and to give you an idea of what to expect if you are attending for the first time, or have a matter pending before the Directors for consideration.

All meetings of the Fort Smith Board of Directors are open to the public and are publicized through the local media.

The regular and special meetings, and the study sessions have a procedural outline which is followed each time. This outline consists of the following items:

COMPLETION OF SPEAKER'S CARD

Prior to the start of a regular or special meeting, any citizen who desires to address any item on the agenda must first complete a speaker's card (these are located on table at entrance to the meeting room) and give same to the city clerk.

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The meeting is called to order and the invocation and pledge are lead by an individual chosen by the mayor.

ROLL CALL

The roll call is conducted to determine if a quorum of the board of directors is present. Four (4) of the seven (7) members constitute a quorum, and at least five (5) members must be present in order for passage of an ordinance which is general and permanent in nature.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The first order of business is approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. The purpose of approving the minutes is to authenticate the record of the meeting and to allow the directors to review and if necessary, make amendments to the published record before it becomes official. All minutes of the board of directors meetings are on file in the city clerk's office.

MAYOR'S COMMENTS ON MEETING PROCEDURES

During this segment of the meeting, the mayor explains the time allotment for individuals who have indicated their desire to address the board concerning an agenda item. The time allotments are as follows:

Agenda Items - 5 minutes per side (does not include Board comments)

3 minutes per side for rebuttals (presentation of new info only)

Consent Agenda - 2 minutes per person for any comments/questions

If additional discussion or review time is needed, the item may be referred to the City Administrator or other appropriate staff.

PROCEDURES FOR REVIEWING AGENDA ITEMS

A standard procedure exists for reviewing the agenda items and is outlined as follows:

The mayor introduces the agenda item and refers to the city administrator or other appropriate staff member to present the item briefing.

The mayor then asks if any board members have questions or comments.

The mayor then asks if there are any citizens present to address the item.

Following all discussion, the mayor will entertain a motion. When the board is in a public hearing, the mayor will first close the public hearing before a motion can be made.

The vote occurs by a motion being made by one board member with another member seconding the motion. The city clerk then takes the vote by roll call and at the conclusion announces the results.

The consent agenda consist of those items deemed routine in nature (e.g., bids, final payments, etc.) and are therefore, listed on the agenda as "A-Z" items. Questions regarding any item can still be addressed, and, unless specifically requested, one vote for all items within the consent agenda is all that is necessary.

ORDINANCES OF GENERAL AND PERMANENT NATURE

"Suspending with the full reading" All by-laws and ordinances of a general and permanent nature (e.g., rezonings, utility rates, street closings, etc.) shall be fully and distinctly read on three (3) different days unless five (5) members of the board of directors dispense with the rule.

A motion for the adoption of an ordinance of general and permanent nature must call for the suspension of the rule. The city clerk reads the title of the ordinance and if five (5) affirmative votes are cast, then the ordinance passes on its first reading. When only four (4) affirmative votes are received, the three (3) separate readings must occur, and this normally involves consideration of the ordinance at three (3) different regular meetings of the board of directors before it becomes law.

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, executive sessions are permitted only for the purpose of discussing or considering employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of any public officer or employee.

Prior to convening into executive session, the mayor announces the purpose of the executive session. The meeting room is cleared with only the mayor, board, and city administrator present for the executive session (unless otherwise permitted per the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act).

At the conclusion of the executive session, the mayor reconvenes the meeting and all other persons are invited back into the meeting room. The mayor announces appointment nominations (e.g., boards & commissions) and other action taken. For appointment nominations, a motion and second is made to accept the appointments.

ADJOURNMENT

At the conclusion of the meeting when all agenda items have been acted upon by the board of directors, and there is no further business scheduled on the agenda, a motion for adjournment is made.

STUDY SESSIONS

The week prior to the regular meeting of the board of directors, the board, along with staff, meet in a study session to review upcoming items for consideration including reports/updates on major projects, etc. These sessions are done to inform the board of pending issues in order to give them time to review each item in detail and obtain additional information if necessary prior to actually voting on the item. There is no official action taken at a study session.

Only the city administrator, the mayor, or a member of the board may invite persons to address the board at a study session.
Since August 1967, the citizens of Fort Smith have been served by the City Administrator form of government. The governing body consists of a mayor and seven directors who are elected by the citizens.

The City is divided into four equally-populated wards, and one director is elected from each ward. The Mayor and the other three directors are elected from the entire city, which is called elected "at large." All serve four-year terms.

The Mayor is the chairman of the Board of Directors and presides over all meetings of the directors. The mayor does not vote; however, the Mayor does have a veto which can be overridden by the Board of Directors. The mayor is also the ceremonial head of the city -- greeting visitors, speaking to various groups and honoring individuals and groups for outstanding accomplishments.

The Board of Directors approves the annual operating budget and sets the policies by which the City operates. The Board meets at 6:00 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month for official voting sessions. They also meet in study sessions at noon on the Tuesday prior to each voting session, to discuss the more difficult and controversial matters. All meetings of the Board of Directors are open to the public, which is required by the Arkansas Freedom of Information law.

To run for mayor or director, a resident must be at least 21 years of age and a qualified voter. For additional information regarding city election requirements, contact the City Clerk's Office, (479) 784-2208.

The City Administrator is hired by the Board of Directors to oversee the daily operations. The City Administrator serves at the will of the Board of Directors and must be a resident of the city. In addition to being responsible for the daily operations, the City Administrator also recommends an annual budget to the Board and makes policy recommendations.