Policy Manual

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    Policy No.: Resolution 16-112 Effective: 09/06/2016
    Revision No.: Review Date: xx/xx/xx
    Advisory Boards and Committees Guidelines

    OVERVIEW:   It shall be the policy of the Board of County Commissioners of Alachua County, Florida, that these Guidelines shall provide direction for the creation of new advisory boards and committees, the membership of advisory boards and committees, and the conduct of advisory boards and committees.  It is the intent of the Board of County Commissioners that these Guidelines completely supersede any previous policies or guidelines concerning advisory boards and committees. 
    PROVISIONS:
    Except as provided in the authorizing ordinances or resolutions of specific advisory boards and committees, these Guidelines should provide direction for advisory boards and committees.
    "Advisory boards or committees" are those bodies created by the Board of County Commissioners, whether entitled "board," "committee," "commission," "council," or the like, which are established by and have authority only to advise the Board of County Commissioners rather than to establish policies or make decisions for the Board of County Commissioners.
    I.                   Creation of Advisory Boards and Committees.
    Advisory boards and committees should be created by resolution of the Board of County Commissioners.  Resolutions creating advisory boards and committees should include, at a minimum:
    (a)               Legislative findings.
    (b)               Express creation of the advisory board or committee.
    (c)                Purpose and duties of the advisory board or committee.
    (d)              Designation as “standing” (continuing until dissolved) or “special” (continuing until a specified sunset date).
    (e)               Membership qualifications.
    (f)                Staggered terms for initial appointment (especially for standing advisory boards and committees).
    (g)               Provisions for operations of the advisory board or committee.
     
    II.                Membership on Advisory Boards and Committees.
     
    (1)               Appointments.  The Board of County Commissioners will appoint the members of advisory boards and committees.  Appointments will be made from applications of qualified potential members during a regular Board of County Commissioners meeting.
     
    (2)               Regular Members.  Advisory boards and committees should have an odd number of regular members.
     
    (3)               Alternate Members.  All advisory boards and committees should have at least one alternate member.  Attendance requirement detailed below applies to alternate members, as well as regular members.  An alternate member shall serve in place of an absent regular member, and shall have all rights and responsibilities of the absent regular member, including the right to vote.
     
    (4)               Attendance.  Advisory board and committee members should regularly attend all meetings of their respective advisory boards and committees.  Any regular or alternate member whose attendance is less than 50% of the last 6 consecutive meetings shall automatically be removed from the advisory board or committee.  Staff liaisons shall notify members by US mail, by email or through attendance reports when they are approaching removal due to lack of attendance.
     
    (5)               Quorum.  A quorum for an advisory board or committee is the number of members which constitute the majority of all regular positions which are currently filled.  Alternate members may make up a quorum.  When less than a quorum is present at a meeting, the advisory board or committee may meet in a workshop setting, during which no vote may be taken.  These workshops must be open to the public and minutes must be taken.
     
    (6)               Hold-overs.  Advisory board and committee members may continue to serve following the expirations of their terms until the Board of County Commissioners fills the position which would be vacated.
     
    (7)               Removals.  Advisory board and committee members serve at the pleasure of the Board of County Commissioners.  Any board or committee member may be removed for good cause by the Board of County Commission after consideration of the issue at a Board meeting.

     
    III.             Conduct of Advisory Boards and Committees.
    (1)               Governing Rules.  Except as may be provided by these Rules or by law, questions of order, the methods of organization and the conduct of business of the advisory boards and committees shall be governed by The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (formerly known as Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure) in all cases for which they are applicable
     
    (2)               Open to the Public.
     
    a.                  Meetings Open to Public.  All meetings of advisory boards and committees shall be open to the public in accordance with the Florida Government in the Sunshine Law, Section 286.011, Florida Statutes (Fla. Stat.).  Advisory board and committee members should consult their staff liaisons with any questions regarding open meetings or to request a presentation on the Florida Sunshine Law.
    b.                  Signs, Placards, Banners.  For public safety purposes, no signs or placards mounted on sticks, posts, poles or similar structures shall be allowed in advisory board and committee meeting rooms.  Other signs, placards, banners or other similar items shall not disrupt meetings or interfere with others’ visual rights.
    c.                   Persons with Disabilities.  All persons with disabilities shall be provided with the assistance necessary to enable them to effectively participate in advisory boards and committee meetings, consistent with Section 286.26, Fla. Stat.
     
    (3)               Public Comment.  Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before advisory boards and committees.  The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which an advisory board or committee takes official action on the proposition if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that is during the decision making process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the advisory board or committee takes the official action.[1]
     
    (4)               Voting Conflicts. 
     
    No member of an advisory board or committee shall vote on a matter when the member has a voting conflict of interest as specified in Section 112.3143 or Section 286.012, Fla. Stat.  Prior to participating in a discussion, members abstaining from voting due to a voting conflict shall publically announce the conflict, shall disclose the nature of their conflict, and file a written memorandum (Ethic’s Commission Form 8A or 8B) to the staff liaison. 
     
    If a member recognizes that a voting conflict exists during the course of a discussion, the member shall immediately publically announce the conflict, disclose the nature of the conflict and abstain from voting.  Within 15 calendar days following that advisory board or committee meeting, the member shall file a written memorandum (Ethic’s Commission Form 8A and 8B) with the staff liaison. 
     
    The written memorandum shall be incorporated into the meeting minutes as an exhibit.  Advisory board and committee members who believe that they may have a voting conflict should consult their board or committee’s staff liaison before the meeting at which members will be asked to vote on an item upon which they may have a conflict.
     
    (5)               Work Plans and Reports of Accomplishments.  Advisory boards and committees shall prepare and update work plans and reports of accomplishments annually.  Work plans and reports of accomplishments should be on-file with staff liaisons by October 1 of each year.  Staff liaisons shall submit advisory board and committee work plans and reports of accomplishments to the Board of County Commissioners.  Advisory board and committee chairpersons are encouraged to present the work plans and reports of accomplishments to the Board of County Commissioners at a Board meeting.  The Board of County Commissioners encourages and welcomes issues of the advisory board and committees’ own initiative to be brought to the attention of the Board of County Commissioners.
     
    (6)               Public Records.  The public has the right to access public records.  Public records are:
     
    “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.” Sec. 119.011(12), Fla. Stat.
     
    Most records created by or provided to advisory boards and committees, or their members in their capacity as members, are public records which must be made available to a person requesting them.  There are many exceptions for records or for certain information contained in those records.  Advisory board and committee members should consult their staff liaisons with any questions regarding public records or to request a presentation on the Florida Public Records Law.
     
    (7)               Coordination with Other Governments.  Advisory boards and committees should, when appropriate, coordinate with other local governments and boards or committees created by other local governments.  To protect the public’s right to participate in open meetings, this coordination shall be effected through the respective staff liaison or the advisory board or committee chairperson (or designee).
     
    (8)               Prohibited Remote Voting by a Member.  A member may participate in a discussion but no member shall cast a vote via telephone or video/audio appearance. 
     
    IV.             Staff Liaisons.  A staff liaison is a county staff member whose duty is to help to administer the meetings of the advisory boards or committees and to serve as a link between the advisory board, the County Manager, the County Attorney and the Board of County Commissioners.  The staff liaison’s tasks are:
    (1)               Publicly noticing the advisory board or committee meeting and reserving the meeting room.
    (2)               Reminding members of an up-coming meeting.
    (3)               Ensuring that all persons with disabilities are provided with the assistance necessary to enable them to effectively participate in the meetings.
    (4)               Preparing the agenda and agenda backup materials, and providing copies of the materials to members.
    (5)               Introducing new members to the board or committee and informing new members of the rules and process which governs the board or committee.
    (6)               Ensuring that minutes of the meetings are kept.
    (7)               Keeping attendance records of the meetings.
    (8)               Maintaining public records of the board or committee.
    (9)               Providing the work plans and reports of accomplishments to the Board of County Commissioners annually.
    Staff liaisons may perform a task not listed above if requested by an advisory board or committee if the task takes the staff liaison 30 minutes or less to perform.  If the task takes more than 30 minutes, the staff liaison may perform the task if the staff liaison’s department director preauthorizes the work.
    V.                Construction of These Guidelines.
    These Guidelines provide direction only.  No action taken inconsistent with these Guidelines shall be invalid solely because it was taken inconsistent with these Guidelines.


    [1] Consistent with Section 286.0114, Fla. Stat. (2015).
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Appeals

Policy No.: 9-4 Effective: 05/08/12
Revision No.: 2 Review Date: 05/08/13

OVERVIEW: The employee appeals process provides a mechanism for employees and managers to resolve their differences in the application of the Board of County Commissioners’ Employee Policies. The process is designed to meet all constitutional and legal requirements while encouraging resolution at the lowest possible level.

SCOPE: This policy applies to all classified employees of the Board of County Commissioners excluding Executive Service.

PROVISIONS:

1. Right of Appeal.

    1. Only permanent employees may file an appeal under this policy.
    2. An appeal may be filed under any chapter or section of a chapter of these policies.
    3. However, a performance review is appealable only as it relates to disciplinary actions resulting in termination, suspension or demotion. Requests for departmental oversight of an annual performance review are outlined in the policy on Performance Evaluations.
    4. Employees in bargaining unit positions may file an appeal under the Board of County Commissioners’ Employee Policies or a grievance under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, once such an employee initiates one process, the employee waives the right to file under the other process.

2. Appeal Process.
a. The time limits at any step may be extended by mutual agreement of the appealing employee and the hearing officer.
b. The Human Resources Manager shall serve as the County representative for such requests at Step 2.
c. If an appeal is not pursued to the next step in a timely fashion, it shall be considered settled with the last answer of the County representative.
d. In the absence of a timely answer by the County, an appeal will be considered denied.
e. Neither the employee nor any County representative may waive any step in the appeal process.
f. A supervisor authorized by these regulations to act on an appeal of a major disciplinary action may designate or request another official to act in his or her place. This designee may not be an official who has already acted in the matter, e.g., by investigating the allegations or proposing or deciding the disciplinary action or considering an appeal at an earlier step in the appeals process, or an official who is supervised by an official who has so acted.
g. Step 1.
      1. An employee shall first present any appeal in writing to the employee’s department director within five working days of the event giving rise to the appeal or the date the event became known, or should have become known, to the employee. If the department director or Administrating Official made the disciplinary decision being appealed, the Step 1 appeal will be directed to either the Assistant of Deputy County Manager who does not supervise that department.
      2. The department director or Assistant/Deputy County Manager shall meet with the employee within five working days or as soon as practicable after receipt of the appeal to discuss the matter.
      3. Within five working days following the meeting, the department director or Assistant/Deputy County Manager shall provide a written response to the employee. Non-Executive Service employees who are disciplined by an Administrating Offical may present a Step 1 appeal to that official as a request for reconsideration of the disciplinary action.
h. Step 2 – Minor Discipline.
i) If an employee who is appealing a grievance or minor discipline is not satisfied with the response at Step 1, or if the employee fails to receive a timely response, the employee may file a written request for review by the Peer Review Committee.
ii) The request must be filed through the Human Resources Manager within five working days of receipt of the Step 1 response or failure to receive a timely response.
iii) The Peer Review Committee will conduct a hearing on the matter and forward a written recommendation to the employee and the Administrating Official within five working days following the hearing.
i. Step 2 – Major Discipline.
i) Upon a timely request of an employee who is appealing major discipline, the Administrating Official will arrange a full due process hearing on the appeal, held before an impartial hearing officer selected by the employee from a current list of hearing officers under contract with the County.
ii) A request for hearing will be considered timely if it is made within five working days of receipt of the Step 1 response or the County's failure to make a timely response. This five day limit may be extended for good cause if both the appealing employee and the County agree to an extension in writing.
iii) This hearing will be conducted generally in accordance with federal and state constitutional law pertaining to administrative hearings.
        1. The employee has the right to written notice of the time and place of the hearing, the name of the hearing officer, and a copy of the evidence relied on by the County to support the disciplinary action.
        2. The employee has the right to adequate time to prepare for the hearing. Normally ten working days from the date of the notice and receipt of the County’s evidence is adequate. The hearing officer may grant additional time for good cause shown.
        3. The employee has the right to require the County to prove the basis for the disciplinary action taken by a preponderance of the evidence.
        4. The employee has the right to be represented by counsel or other representative at the employee’s own expense.
        5. The employee and the County have the right to present witnesses, documentary and tangible evidence. Witnesses will be sworn. The employee must make his or her own arrangements for witnesses’ appearance, except that current employees of the Board of County Commissioners may be required to attend by the hearing officer, acting through the Administrating Official.
        6. The employee has the right to cross-examine witnesses for the County and to object to evidence offered by the County, and to present rebuttal evidence.
        7. The employee has no right to extensive discovery beyond that described in this Policy or granted by the hearing officer for good cause shown
        8. The hearing officer will make a tape or digital recording of the hearing, or prepare an accurate summary of the hearing for both sides to review. The employee has the right to a copy of the recording, and to make a full or partial transcript of the recording at the employee’s own expense.
        9. The County and the employee have the right to object to the hearing officer’s summary of the hearing. The hearing officer’s determination of the content of the summary is final, but will note any unresolved objection.
iv) The hearing officer:
1) May continue the hearing for good cause shown or without objection.
2) May control discovery.
3) May direct actions to maintain an orderly process and hearing and compliance with rules and time limits.
4) May issue sanctions within the hearing process, such as to strike or limit testimony.
5) Will make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and will promptly report the results of the hearing to the Administrating Official.
      1. There will be no exparte contact with the hearing officer after the employee requests a hearing. The employee will inform the County of his or her choice of hearing officers from a list provided by the County of those currently on contract to conduct administrative hearings.
vi) The County representative, bearing the burden of proof, will present the County’s case first. The order of the hearing will generally follow the order of an administrative hearing. The hearing officer may announce modified procedures upon good cause or without objection.
j. Step 3.
i) The Administrating Official will make the final decision on the employee’s administrative appeal. For most Board employees, this will be the County Manager or designee.
ii) In cases of major discipline, the hearing officer’s findings of fact that are supported by substantial, competent evidence are binding on the Administrating Official. The Administrating official will explain in writing any changes to the hearing officer’s conclusions of law or ultimate conclusions of fact in the record of the appeal.
iii) The Administrating Official will forward a written decision to the employee within five working days following receipt of the Peer Review Committee’s recommendation or the hearing officer’s report. The original of this decision will be forwarded to the Human Resources Office for inclusion in the employee's personnel record.

3. Peer Review Committee. The Peer Review Committee is responsible for providing assistance and advice to the Administrating Official on employee appeals related to the application of the Board of County Commissioners’ Employee Policies.
a. In hearing an employee appeal, the Peer Review Committee shall interpret these policies with regard to the specific appeal at hand and shall have no authority to amend, modify, ignore or add to the provisions of these policies.
b. The Peer Review Committee shall consist of one non-bargaining unit employee from each department.
i) For purposes of this policy, employees in the County Manager’s Office shall be considered as a single department.
c. Appointments. Appointments to staggered two year terms shall be made annually, effective October 1, by the Administrating Official based upon solicited nominations and applications.
i) Nominated employees and employees applying for membership on the Committee will be requested to provide information regarding their background and desire to serve on the Committee.
ii) No more than two of the members at any one time shall be an office director or the equivalent.
iii) There shall be no executive service employees on the Committee.
d. Selection of Chair and Vice-Chair. At the first meeting held each fiscal year, the members of the Committee shall select by simple majority vote a chair and vice chair, who shall serve in those positions for the remainder of the year.

    1. Quorum. A quorum shall consist of one half plus one of the members.
    2. All members shall have the right to equally participate in the employee appeal hearing and formal recommendation.
      1. However, any member from the same department as the appealing employee may not vote or attempt to influence the vote on matters related to that appeal.
    3. Chair Responsibilities. The chair is responsible for ensuring orderliness of the hearing and the professional demeanor of those present.
      1. Those who do not conform to the guidelines set by the chair may be asked to leave.
      2. In the event that the chair elects to remove any participant, that decision is not appealable.
    4. Rules of Order. At the first meeting each fiscal year, the Committee shall adopt rules of order for the conduct of business for the remainder of the year; for example, regular meeting times.
      1. Such rules may be amended by vote of the majority of those present at a properly called meeting.
    5. Meeting Procedures. The department director of the appealing employee may present, or have a representative present, the background and basis for the action taken. Meetings of the Peer Review Committee will be conducted as follows:
      1. The employee will be allowed to make an opening statement, followed by the response of the department representative.
      2. The employee will present evidence, including testimony from witnesses, and then the department will present evidence and witness testimony.
      3. The employee will have an opportunity to question representatives and witnesses of the County, and the department representative will have the same opportunity to question the employee and the employee’s witnesses.
      4. During and following the evidence, the Committee will have an opportunity to ask questions of the employee, the department representative, any witnesses who have appeared, and any other witnesses the Committee wishes to call.
      5. Following all questions, the employee and then the department representative shall have the opportunity to make a closing statement.
      6. Following the hearing of evidence and any closing statements, the Committee will close the meeting for its deliberations.
    6. The chair shall ensure that both the appealing employee and the department representative have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses.
      1. Either party may choose to be represented.
      2. However, the process is designed to afford employees the opportunity to present evidence on their own behalf without the requirement for attorneys or other counsel.
    7. Role of the Human Resources Office and County Attorney’s Office. The Human Resources Manager and the County Attorney, or their designees, shall serve as staff support of the Committee and shall be present at hearings to lend advice and assistance as requested by the Committee.
      1. The Human Resources Manager may provide testimony on behalf of the County, if requested by the department.
    8. All meetings of the Committee, including the Committee deliberations, will be recorded and the tapes made available for review after the meeting.
    9. All testimony and evidence related to an appeal shall only be received and considered by the Committee members at a meeting.
    10. Members of the Committee shall refrain from and shall not knowingly engage in any “exparte” communications regarding an appeal, meaning that members shall not discuss any pending appeal with any county employee, any County administration representative or any third party outside of the Committee meeting.

4. Peer Review Committee's Recommendation to the Administrating Official.
a. Following the hearing of evidence and any closing statements, the Committee shall deliberate on the matters raised by the parties by considering the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing.
b. All other participants and attendees will be requested to leave the room to allow for deliberations by the Committee members.
c. These deliberations will be recorded and the tapes or digital recordings will be made available for review by the appealing employee after the discussions are completed.
d. At the close of deliberations, the Committee may reach a less than unanimous decision.
e. A simple majority vote is all that is required for a recommendation, and the recommendation will note the number of dissenters.
f. A written recommendation will be forwarded to the Administrating Official, with a copy to the employee, within five working days following the hearing and will include the following:
      1. A summary of the appeal, listing findings of fact made by the Committee based on the evidence presented.
      2. The Committee’s recommendation and the basis for the recommendations.
      3. In the event that the recommendation is contrary to current policy or practice, the rationale for such deviation.
g. In the event that the recommendation is contrary to current policy or practice, the rationale for such deviation must be explained in writing.
h. In the event that the Committee is unable to make a recommendation to the County Manger based upon the information provided with the packets and/or at the hearing, the Chair may request that an additional meeting be held to allow one or both parties to provide clarifying documentation or testimony to the Committee.