Roles of Council Members and Council
As of Jan. 28, 2019, the following people have filed to run for the upcoming, May 4, general election: Council member, place 1 – Elizabeth Abraham, place 2 – Jennifer Berthiaume (incumbent), place 4 – Kenneth Oltmann and Betty Nichols Spraggins (incumbent). Place 6 – no one. The final day to file is Feb. 15, 2019. Hours to file are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Applications must be filed in person or mailed to the city secretary’s office at 206 N. Murphy Rd., Murphy, Texas 75094. Drawing for a place on the ballot will be held Tuesday, February 19, at 5:45 p.m. (To see a current list of those who have filed go to http://www.murphytx.org/621/Elections.)
Describing how much time a council member spends on average on council business, City of Murphy City Secretary, Susie Quinn said, “That depends entirely on the council member and how much research and reading they need to do to feel comfortable before attending a meeting and/or making a decision.” She said that their own experiences and backgrounds can cause the amount of time spent on council business to fluctuate. “Prior board members’ experiences, as well as job and life experience, are all beneficial to assist a council member in time spent on various agenda items.”
Besides attending council meetings, Quinn informed that council members are expected to become familiar with the City Charter, the Governance Policy, the Ethics Code, review upcoming agendas, read materials provided by those speaking at upcoming meetings and make suggestions on city budget. (The mayor is paid $75 for each council meeting attended and council members are paid $50 per council meeting attended.)
Quinn provides the top three attributes an ideal council member would possess are, “1) A great communicator, responds to emails, and/or phone calls from constituents and city staff. 2) Prepared when they come to council meetings. 3) Contacts the city manager with questions hours before a council meeting, so everyone is better prepared.”
Powers of the city council are found in article III, section 3.07 of the City of Murphy’s City Charter. Some of the responsibilities are: (1) Appoint and remove the City Manager. (2) Appoint and remove the Municipal Judge(s) of the Municipal Court. (3) Appoint and remove the City Attorney. (4) Appoint and remove the City Secretary. (5) Adopt the budget of the City. (6) Collectively investigate into the conduct of any office, department or agency of the City and make investigations as to municipal affairs. (7) Provide for a Planning and Zoning Commission, a Board of Adjustment and other boards as deemed necessary, and appoint the members of all such boards and commissions. Such boards and commissions shall have all powers and duties now or hereafter conferred and created by this Charter, by City ordinance or by law. (8) Adopt and modify the official map of the City. (9) Adopt, modify and carry out plans in conjunction with the Planning and Zoning Commission for the planning improvement and redevelopment of specific areas of the City. (10) Adopt, modify and carry out plans in conjunction with the Planning and Zoning Commission for the planning reconstruction or redevelopment of any area or district which many have been destroyed in whole or part by disaster.
There are five additional powers of council which can be found at murphytx.org, search the word ‘Charter’.
The role of council is detailed in article III, section 3.13 of the City’s Charter. Following are abbreviated versions of the roles of council (for the complete description, please go to murphytx.org and search ‘Charter’). Rules of Procedure - The City Council shall determine by ordinance, resolution, or otherwise, its own rules of order and business. The City Council shall provide that members of the public shall have a reasonable opportunity to clearly be heard at public hearings with regard to specific matters under consideration. In addition, the Council will provide reasonable opportunity for public comments concerning items not on the agenda. The City Council shall provide for minutes to be taken and recorded for all public meetings as required by law. Such minutes shall be a public record and shall be kept and maintained by the City Secretary. Passage of Ordinances in General - (1) The City Council shall legislate by ordinance only,... (2) Unless otherwise required by law, every ordinance shall become effective upon adoption or at any later time(s) specified in the ordinance... (3) If a majority of the City Council present at a council meeting request that the ordinance title and caption or its entirety be read, it must be read. Authentication, Recording, Codification, Printing and Distribution - (1) All ordinances and resolutions adopted by the City Council shall be authenticated by seal and signature of the person performing the duties of the City Secretary…(2) The City Council may maintain the codification of ordinances of the City. This codification shall be known and cited as “The Murphy City Code” (3) The City Council shall cause all ordinances and amendments to this Charter to be printed promptly following their adoption…. Investigations by the City Council - The City Council, by an affirmative vote of at least four members of the City Council, shall have the power to collectively investigate into the official conduct of any department, agency, office, officer, Councilmember or employee of the City and to make, direct or supervise investigation(s) as to municipal affairs, and for that purpose, the City Council collectively shall have the power to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses…
There is not really a requirement as to how many council meetings a council member must attend in a year. Article III, Section 3.06 of the Charter addresses consequences of absences: (1) The office of a Councilmember or the Mayor shall become vacant upon his or her death, resignation, incapacity, forfeiture of office, or removal from office, by any manner authorized by law. (2) If any Member of the City Council is absent from three consecutive regular meetings, without explanation acceptable to a majority of the remaining Councilmembers, his or her office may be declared vacant, by resolution, at the next regular meeting of the City Council. The City Council shall convene a public hearing before exercising its authority under this provision, and permit the Councilmember facing expulsion to be heard regarding absences.