Council Meetings FAQ
Q. Is the council required to meet? For the most part, no, a city or town council is not required to meet if there is no business to conduct. There may be specific statutory requirements that require a public hearing, such as adopting a tentative budget, setting the property tax rate, zoning matters, etc.. A city charter or city or town code may also impose certain council meeting requirements. Please consult your municipal clerk and attorney for specific guidance.
Q. What happens after an emergency proclamation has been issued by the mayor? No. The Arizona Attorney General has put out guidance to help answer a lot of these questions. https://www.azag.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/Covid-OML_202003131526.pdf This guidance walks through how to hold a purely remote meeting. There are other types of public hearings that may have different requirements and your attorney will have to determine if those hearings can be managed remotely.
Q. Do we have to accommodate public participation? Under state law you must provide a way for the public to attend and listen to the discussion of the public body in a clear manner. However, the law does not require public comment for regular council meetings. Many cities and towns desire to hear from the public and if public comment is included on your agenda, you must provide a means for those comments to be clearly given by the public and received by the council. It is imperative that everyone can hear each other. The AG guidance noted above provides some additional insight about video conferencing or teleconferencing options. Other types of public hearings may have different requirements for public participation and must be reviewed by your attorney.
There are certain laws in place that can make it challenging to continue normal government operations during a pandemic when the workforce is diminished, public access is restricted due to quarantine and isolation protocols, and the situation continues to change each day. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 26-307 an emergency proclamation allows existing laws, ordinances, orders, rules and regulations in conflict with the emergency powers to be suspended during the time and to the extent they conflict.
Further, during periods of local emergency, cities and towns have full power to provide mutual aid to other communities in accordance with local ordinances, resolutions, emergency plans or agreements and localities may be assisted by state agencies.
A local proclamation provides a municipality with the ability to best serve its residents during uncertain times.
Q. What options are available for remote meetings? A: Given the current state of technology, a number of cities and towns are utilizing video conferencing services to “broadcast”their council meetings. Below are a number of options we’ve seen or heard governments using.
Facebook Live. https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/live Free Service.
GoToMeeting. https://www.gotomeeting.com Free and paid services available.
Ring Central. https://www.ringcentral.com/" It should be noted that Ring Central uses Zoom for it’s video conferencing services. Free and paid services available.
Webex. https://www.webex.com/ Free and paid services available.
YouTube Live. https://www.webex.com/ Free service.
Zoom. https://zoom.us/ Incredibly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it should be noted that the FBI has highlighted Zoom for some of its security flaws here). Zoom has been working to provide updates to improve the security of their service. Free and paid services available.