What Is A Town Council?
Town Council Generally
The powers of a town council in Indiana to establish policy are quite broad. Essentially, councils may undertake any action related to town affairs other than those forbidden or preempted by state or federal law.
It is important to note that the Council acts as a body. No member has any extraordinary powers beyond those of other members. While the Council President and Vice President have some additional ceremonial and administrative responsibilities as described below, in the establishment of policies, voting and in other significant areas, all members are equal. It is also important to note that policy is established by at least a majority vote of the Council. While individual members may disagree with decisions of the majority, a decision of the majority does bind the Council to a course of action. In turn, it is staff’s responsibility to ensure the policy of the Council is upheld. Actions of staff to pursue the policy direction established by a majority of Council do not reflect any bias against Council members who held a minority opinion on an issue.
Council members are encouraged to participate and provide leadership in regional, state and national programs and meetings. Council members are strongly encouraged to report to the council on matters discussed at subcommittees and other regional, state, and national board/agency/group activities in which they have been involved.
Organization of Town Council
The Town Council shall organize itself by the election of President and Vice President at the first meeting held during each calendar year. In the event that the President and/or Vice President are not elected at the first meeting of the calendar year, the President and/or Vice President will continue to serve until an election is held.
In a new year where Council Members remain the same, the Council may elect the President and Vice President at their last meeting of the previous year. The result will be noted in the first meeting of the New Year, with the minutes reflecting the election results.
In the event that the President or Vice President resigns or dies, the Town Council shall elect a successor among remaining Council Members to complete such officer’s term of office.
Role of the Council President and Vice President
Council President: As reflected in the municipal code, the Council President is to preside at all meetings of the Town Council and perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be imposed by the Council. The Council President does not possess any power of veto. As presiding officer of the Council, the Council President is to faithfully communicate the will of the Council majority in matters of policy. The Council President is also recognized as the official head of the town for all ceremonial purposes. The Town Council elects the Council President annually.
Traditionally, the Council President has also been assigned by the Town Council to consult and coordinate with the Town Manager in the development of agendas for meetings of the Town Council as outlined in Chapter 8. The scope of such review focuses on the timing of business items and the volume of business which can be considered at any one meeting. Such review does not allow for a unilateral unlimited delay of items to be considered by the Council. Should any significant disagreement arise regarding the scheduling of items, these matters are to be resolved by the full Town Council.
Council Vice President: The Council Vice President shall perform the duties of the Council President during the Council President’s absence or disability. The Vice President shall be elected annually by the Town Council.
Appointment of Town Manager, Town Attorney
The Town Council appoints two positions within the town organization: town manager and town attorney. Both positions serve at the will of the Town Council. The Town Manager is an employee of the town. The Town Manager is responsible for all other personnel appointments within the town except the police department and the Clerk Treasurer’s Office. All appointments are subject to the approval of the Town Council.
Appointment of Advisory Bodies and Standing Committees
The Town Council currently has 1 standing committees. Each Committee shall consist of not more than two (2) members of the Town Council who shall serve as co-chairs of the Committee. Such Committees may conduct investigations or hold such hearings as they deem necessary regarding any matter before them related to their Committee purpose and shall report their recommendations, if any, to the Town Council. Those committee is the Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Standing Committees will be appointed by the Town Council President at the first meeting in January of each year or at the time that the committee is initiated. Any documents that have been given to any Committee, related to Town business, shall be given to the Town Manager or Clerk-Treasurer, as a matter of record keeping, within twenty four (24) hours.
No one shall enter in to any negotiations, agreements or fact finding, on behalf of the Town of Fortville with out documented approval from the Town Council or Town Manager.
The Town has one standing commission or board whose appointments are established by State Statute and Town Code: the Redevelopment Commission. There is also a Design Review Board established by the Town Council for the review process of development and subdivision control. This board is made up of non-political positions and is to review the subdivision or developments on its technical merits.
In addition, extensive special- purpose citizens committees and task forces are encouraged and are often appointed by the Town Council to address issues of interest. The following procedures reflect the policy of the Town Council regarding the appointment of volunteer citizens to the various advisory bodies of the town.
The establishment of these procedures insures that well-qualified, responsible and willing citizens are given the opportunity to serve the town and participate in the governing of their community. These procedures apply to all appointments and reappointments to standing advisory bodies.
Qualifications: A member must be knowledgeable of and experienced in the areas of interest of the board/commission on which he/she wishes to serve. Residency requirements are outlined in State Statute and Town Code. Names to be considered for appointment will be submitted to the Town Council. While seated commission members may request that the Council seek certain qualifications from new appointees, only the Council shall review applications and make appointments to commissions.
The Council should maintain the following values:
- High energy, open minded, achievement oriented
- Have respect and care for each other
- Be straight forward, no hidden agendas
- Maintain humor
- Traditions are respected, but not binding.