Fargo adjusts several policies related to public comment period, board ethics, and the role of the City Administrator

(Fargo, ND) — The City of Fargo is changing several policies in an effort to update decades old language. 

The language was discussed through seven distinct policies. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney summarized those changes at Monday’s commission meeting. They largely circulate around three different sections.

  • Clarifications of the City Administrator’s job. 
  • Changes to resident comments, and when speakers are allowed to introduce any topic instead of agenda specific items.
  • Changes to where conflicts of interest are located in policy. 

A more in-depth change to policies can be found below. This includes exact text, changes identified in italic text, removals with strikethrough text, and summaries through unaltered text.

Policy 1: Clarification –  Mayor coordinates performance review of the City Administrator

  • “In addition to these policies, the Mayor will also coordinate and deliver an annual performance review process for the City Administrator.”

Policy 2: Financial planning and administrative section. City Administrator is to manage fund balance and reserves. It also ensures compliance with Purchasing Policy enacted earlier this year, and additional changes to communicating financial condition of the city.

  • “Not cause of allow any financial activity or condition that deviates from the budget the Board of City Commissioners adopted. This includes expending more funds than have been received in the fiscal year unless revenues have been made available through other legal means, including the use of fund balances or the authorization to transfer funds from reserve or other funds.”
  • Must follow Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards and official positions.
  • Communicate year-to-date and projected year-end financial results and foster ongoing dialogue on new and/or existing financial matters through a quarterly Finance Committee meeting with the board of City Commissioners”

Policy 3: Single unit of Control. How the City Administrator is directed to do official actions by the Commission.

  • No changes listed.

Policy 4: Rule for agenda management, how citizens can reach out to and connect with Commissioners for agenda items. New conflict of interest process adopted.

  • Conflict of interest language was moved from Policy 6 to Policy 4. “City Commissioners have a duty to vote unless otherwise ineligible by reason for conflict of interest. The conflicted Commissioner is expected to announce the conflict and not vote on the issue. If there is a question as to whether or not a conflict exists, the City Commissioner may advise the entire Board of City Commissioners of the potential conflict and request a ruling from the entire Board to waive the conflict, by a majority vote […] A City Commissioner excused from voting by reason of conflict is deemed to be disqualified and shall be noted but not counted.”

Policy 5: Public Comment rules changes. Agenda bound resident comments at the beginning, public hearings for specific items on the agenda, and open comment at the end. Additional language could be added in the future about safety concerns at future commission meetings. Additional meetings will happen for this in the spring and summer.

  • “At the end of the City Commission meeting, there will be a resident comment period for items not on that evening’s e-Commission meeting agenda. Rules for this comment period will be the same as the Resident Comment on the Agenda Items.”
  • “Reserved: Future City of Fargo Facilities Security Policy.”

Policy 6: Conflicts of Interest. 

  • If there is a conflict of interest on a vote of the Commission, ther Commissioner is expected to announce that conflict and not vote on the issue. If there is a question of conflict, the Commissioner can request a ruling from the Commission. Reference Attorney General Opinion 95 06 Conflict of Interest statute page 19.
  • Commissioners are still expected to sign a Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest Certificate. Mayor Mahoney says this will allow fellow commissioners and city staff to know if a conflict is indeed present. 

Policy 7: Commissioners addressing board violations. 

  • No changes listed

You can read the full changes list of changes made to the policy handbook by clicking here. Additionally, WDAY Radio Reporter Ty Schonert spoke with Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney about the changed policies. You can listen to the conversation by clicking the play button above this article. 

The policies are expected to be enacted at the April 29th City Commission Meeting.

 

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