How to Address Your City Council

Introduction

The City Council is interested in the concerns of all citizens and welcomes their input on the issues facing our community. In order to provide for an effective, orderly airing of opinion, certain rules have been adopted by the Council on how citizens may make their views knows. This brochure summarizes those procedures, which can be found in the Municipal Code of Champaign, 1985, Chapter 2, Division 3 – Rules of Order.

An agenda is prepared for each Regular or Special Council Meeting, and Study Session. Agendas for each City Council meeting and Study Session are available in the Finance Department at the City Building, 102 North Neil, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Friday prior to the day of the meeting. In addition, agendas are available at the City Building atrium Information Desk, as well as the day of the meeting from the information table located at the rear of the Council Chambers.

The order of business is as follows:

  1. Call to order;
  2. Invocation;
  3. Pledge of allegiance;
  4. Role call’
  5. Approval of minutes;
  6. Correspondence;
  7. Public hearings;
  8. Action on Council Bills
    • Ordinances;
    • Resolutions;
  9. Audience participation;
  10. 1Council and City Manager comments;
  11. Vouchers;
  12. Payroll; and
  13. Adjournment

Addressing Council At Meetings

City Council Meeting (1st and 3rd Tuesdays)

The Regular Meetings of the Council are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month of the year at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The City Council convenes as the Township Board on the first Tuesday of each month. Following the Township meeting, there is a Pre-Council Study Session. The purpose of the Pre-Council Study Session is to review the agenda items for the Regular Council Meeting. Any regular meeting falling upon a legal holiday is held on the next following day that is not a holiday at the same time and place.

The purpose of the Regular Council Meeting is to take formal action on all issues affecting the City of Champaign. Major items of legislation will have already been discussed in Study Sessions prior to their inclusion as agenda items for the Regular Council Meeting.

Citizen Opportunity for Input:

During the City Council Meetings, after each Council Bill has been called by the City Clerk, the Presiding Officer (generally the Mayor) will give a brief explanation of the issues being considered in the Bill, and will then ask if there are members of the audience who wish to address the Council on these issues. If you wish to address the Council regarding the issues, the follow procedure must be followed:

  1. Secure the recognition of the Presiding Officer and approach the podium. State your name and address for the record, and indicate if you are representing a group or organization.
  2. Your comments should be addressed to the Council as a whole, not to individual Council Members.
  3. Your remarks should concern the issue being considered in the Bill.
  4. City Council policies recognize the vital necessity of obtaining comments from the public, therefore you are asked to make a concise statement of your opinions and not try to establish a dialogue with Council Members. This helps prevent lengthy digressions and gives all who desire to speak an opportunity to do so. If you wish to establish a direct dialogue with Council or Staff, you are encouraged to direct your questions to them outside of formal Council meetings.
    • Individuals – Remarks must be limited to five (5) minutes.
    • Groups – If a group wishes to address the Council, a spokesperson should be chosen from the group to address the Council. The spokesperson and the total presentation to Council must be limited to ten (10) minutes. Further time may be granted by the Council.

Opportunity to Address City Council OPENLY:

You may again address the Council on any issue during Audience Participation, which takes place at the end of the Action on Council Bills. The procedures mentioned above should still be followed.

City Council Study Session (2nd & 4th Tuesdays)

Regular Study Sessions of the Council are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month beginning at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. If possible, all major items of legislation are discussed in a Study Session prior to their inclusion as agenda items for a Regular Council Meeting. Once the meeting is called to order, the City Manager, or relevant staff, shall have the responsibility for introducing each item to be discussed.

Opportunity to Speak to Council Agenda Items:

If you wish to address the Council on an issue under consideration, you should follow the same procedures listed under Regular City Council Meetings.

Study Session will not extend beyond two (2) hours of their starting time unless the majority of the Council Members present choose to continue.

Public Hearings

The purpose of a Public Hearing is to seek formal input as required by Ordinance or Statute on certain issues; for example, annexations agreements, budget, enterprise zones, tax increment districts, etc. The Presiding Officer shall announce each item.

The order of the hearing is as follows:

  1. Presentation by staff, committee or commission;
  2. Presentation by applicant;
  3. Presentation by people in favor of;
  4. Presentation by people in opposition to;
  5. Council questions.

During the Public Hearing, the Presiding Officer will ask if members of the audience wish to address Council regarding the issue under consideration. If you wish to address the Council, the procedures listed in this brochure under the section Regular City Council Meeting should be followed.

However, the time limits are extended during Public Hearings as follows:

  1. Applicant – shall have twenty (20) minutes
  2. Groups (For and Against the issue) – shall both
    have twenty (20) minutes

The Presiding Officer may set longer time limits than otherwise allowed to provide a fair hearing. When neither the applicant, opponents or Staff have further evidence to produce, or when in the opinion of Council present, sufficient evidence has been presented, the Presiding Officer shall order the public hearing closed.

Executive Sessions

Executive Sessions are closed meetings that allow the Council to discuss certain matters of a sensitive nature that affect the City. Areas that may be discussed in Executive Session are specified in the Opens Meetings Act. Examples include appointment/employment or dismissal of an employee or officer, land acquisition, collective bargaining/labor negotiations, and probable or pending litigation involving the City. When a motion is made to adjourn to an Executive Session, only that specific topic can be discussed and no final action may be taken on it during the closed Executive Session in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. After the Council has determined that it is no longer necessary to protect the public interest or the privacy of an individual, minutes of closed meetings or sessions are made available to the public.

Addressing Council Outside Of Meetings

The public is encouraged to communicate their questions and concerns to the City Council. You may do so by directly contacting (either orally or in writing) any Council Member. In addition, you may contact the City Manager or any member of the City Staff in writing and indicate that this information is to be shared with the City Council. Copies of the communications will be distributed to the Mayor and each Council Member. The City Clerk will summarize the communication at the next Regular Council Meeting. The Council will acknowledge its receipt, formally place it on the record, and keep it on file in the City Clerk’s Office.

Disturbing Meetings

No person shall interrupt, disturb, or disrupt any Regular or Special Meeting or Study Session of the Council. Upon direction of the Presiding Officer, any such person shall leave the Council Chambers and the City Building.

Failure To Observe Procedures

Council may occasionally deviate from the procedures outlined in this brochure, but failure to strictly observe these rules will not affect the jurisdiction of the Council or invalidate any action taken at a meeting that is otherwise held in conformity with the law.

Conclusion

We hope that this brochure has helped make you aware of how you can make your concerns known to the Champaign City Council. We need and value your input, and hope to provide responsive, caring, cost-effective service in partnership with our community. Please come again.

Records Management Division
102 North Neil
Champaign, IL 61820
217.403.8940