Meeting Procedures

See Also:

Speaking Procedures and Signups for Board Meetings

Speaking Procedures for CIP, Budget and Tax Rate(s) Hearings

 A. Agenda and Materials

  1. Regular Meetings of the County Board are typically scheduled for Saturday and begin at 8:30 a.m. with Public Comment Period. Regular Hearing items heard no earlier than 9 a.m.
  2. Recessed Sessions are typically prescheduled for Tuesday and begin at 3 p.m. with County Board Reports, Appointments, Regional Reports, and County Manager Reports, with the removed Consent Agenda items heard at 6:30 p.m. that evening and Regular Hearing items heard no earlier than 6:45 p.m. that evening. These meetings may be scheduled at other days and times as decided by the Board during the annual adoption of the calendar year meeting schedule at the Organizational Meeting held annually in January.
  3. The County Manager, approximately two weeks before the Regular Meeting, prepares a list of proposed agenda items for the Chairman’s consideration. The agenda of every regular Board meeting is approved by the Chairman of the County Board. Any Board member desiring to add additional items to the proposed agenda must submit them to the Chairman eight days before the meeting.
  4. Citizens wishing to have an agenda item scheduled may make their request in writing to the Chairman at least two weeks before the Regular Meeting. The Chairman decides whether the subject is one which can and should be considered as part of a Board meeting agenda.
  5. Agendas of upcoming County Board meetings are available for public review in the County Board Office no later than Monday, the week of the Saturday meeting, and are posted online same time.  If the Regular Meeting falls on a day other than Saturday, the agenda will be posted on the County website six days prior to the meeting.
  6. Agenda materials are distributed to the Board members no later than eight days before a Regular meeting. All additional materials are distributed to the Board no later than 24 hours before the meeting. The Board may defer any item for which all relevant information has not been prepared in the above-referenced manner.
  7. All written materials from the public related to agenda items which are received in the County Board Office by 12 noon on the Wednesday the week prior to a Saturday Regular Meeting will be distributed to Board members as part of their first distribution packets that Friday and posted on the County website. Materials received by 12 noon the Wednesday the week of the Regular Meeting will be included in supplemental packets delivered that Thursday. All materials received after the above timeframes will be either delivered directly to or placed at the Board member’s seats in the Board Room the evening prior to the meeting. All correspondence received by the County Board is public and made part of the record of the meeting. (For distribution of hard copies to Board members, the Board requests that eight copies be provided.)

B. Public Comment Period

The purpose of Public Comment is to alert the Board to topics not on an agenda; comments should not include topics which have been the subject of recent public hearing, or topics which have been scheduled by the Board for public hearings.

  1. The public comment period is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at Regular Saturday meetings.
  2. Speakers are limited to two (2) minutes.
  3. Only one speaker will be heard on each topic.
  4. In order to speak, a speaker must complete a speaker slip identifying the subject of the public comment and place it in the speaker slip box in the meeting room before the last speaker is called by the Clerk.
  5. Written materials presented at public comment must be given to the Clerk prior to speaking and will be distributed to the Board and will become part of the record (for distribution of hard copies to Board members, the Board requests that eight copies be provided).
  6. Electronic materials must be emailed to the clerk prior to speaking. Materials will be distributed electronically to the Board and staff and will become part of the record. Email materials to the Clerk  and inform the clerk prior to speaking.

C. Consent Agenda

  1. A Consent Agenda may be used for eligible items which may include, but not be limited to, County and Schools appropriations; grant applications; contracts; curb, gutter and sidewalk assessment projects; advertisements of public hearing requests; County Board appointed task force reports; Neighborhood Conservation Plan amendments; small parks projects; inter-jurisdictional agreements; and the minutes. Eligible land use items may be identified within the Consent Agenda and may include, but not be limited to, use permits, use permit and site plan amendments and reviews and site plans. These or other items can be recommended for inclusion on the Consent Agenda by the County Manager with the consent of the County Board.
  2. The County Board, at the request of a member of the public, will remove any item from the proposed Consent Agenda. Removal of an item from the proposed Consent Agenda at Regular Meetings will result in those items being automatically carried-over to the associated prescheduled Recessed Sessions as the first items to be heard no earlier than 6:30 p.m. (See Section D.2. for speaking procedures on Consent Agenda items.) Those items not removed from the Consent Agenda at Regular Meetings will be acted upon by a single vote of the Board at that Regular Meeting. The carry-over of removed items to Recessed Sessions allows additional time for issues to be addressed before final consideration and action by the Board.

D.Testimony on Agenda Items

1. General

a. Testimony and consideration of regular hearing items will begin no earlier than 9:00 a.m. or as soon thereafter as matters may permit, at Regular Meetings, and no earlier than 6:45 p.m. at Recessed Sessions.

b. Regular hearing items are heard in the order in which they appear on the agenda. At the discretion of the Chairman, the length of some public hearings may be limited, and some agenda items may be postponed for hearing at a Recessed Session of the current Regular Meeting, or taken out of sequence from the order listed on the agenda.

c. Opening presentations for any item will be limited to 15 minutes. The order of presentations is as follows: 1) County staff; 2) applicant; 3) advisory group reports; and 4) public comments. At the discretion of the Chairman, the amount of time for presentations or the order of such may change.

d.  Limitations may be placed on the amount of speaking time given to all speakers, which limitations will be announced by the Chairman before public testimony when lengthy public testimony is anticipated.

e.  In order to speak, an individual must submit a speaker slip identifying the agenda item to the Clerk prior to the first speaker being called for that agenda item. Speaker slips may be downloaded online in advance of the meeting at the County Board homepage but will not be accepted until the day of the hearing.

f. Speakers will be called in the order in which the speaker’s slips are received. If a speaker is not present at the time their name is called they will not be allowed to speak.

g. Speaker slips are valid only for the session of the meeting indicated and are not held over to another session or meeting, except for speaker slips for Consent Agenda items to be heard at Recessed Sessions.

h. Speakers are not permitted to donate time to others; the person whose name is written on the speaker slip must be the person presenting testimony.

i. Repetitious testimony is discouraged.

j. Oral presentations should not duplicate written statements which have been submitted to the Board in advance.k.

k. Written statements presented at meetings must be given to the Clerk to be distributed to the Board and to become part of the record. (For distribution to Board members, the Board requests that eight copies be provided: five for the Board members, one for the record, one for legal counsel, and one for staff.)

l. A speaker’s set-up time for use of the technology equipment in the Board Room will be counted in their 2, 3 or 5 minute presentation. Whenever possible, citizens should arrange with the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to set-up before the item is called or public testimony begins.

m. To provide an additional mechanism to communicate with the Board on agenda items, a “Submit a Comment Online” section is provided on the County Board website for electronically submitting written testimony on agenda items. These comments will be printed and distributed to Board members as part of their meeting materials in advance of the meeting.

2. Testimony on Consent Agenda Items

a. As stated in Section C.2, a member of the public may request an item be removed from the Consent Agenda by submitting a consent speaker slip to the Clerk at the Regular Meeting or by request of a Board member at Regular Meetings prior to the consent items being called. Removed items will be carried over to the next prescheduled Recessed Sessions.

b. The Clerk will carry-over speaker slips submitted at Regular Meetings to the next prescheduled Recessed Session and will call speakers in the order in which the slips are received. Speakers will be heard in a group before the Board begins discussion on each item.

c. Additional individuals may sign-up to speak on removed Consent Agenda items the evening of the following prescheduled Recessed Sessions. Individuals must submit a speaker slip to the Clerk before the first speaker is called for the Consent Agenda hearing, which begins no earlier than 6:30 p.m. These speakers will be called after those who submitted slips at the Regular Meeting in the order in which slips are received.

d. Individuals and organizations are limited to a maximum of three (3) minutes to speak on all items on the Consent Agenda for which a speaker slip was submitted to the Clerk. (For example, if a speaker submits a slip to the Clerk indicating that they wish to speak on 2 items on the Consent Agenda, they will be called one time by the Clerk to speak for a maximum of three (3) minutes on both items.)

3. Testimony on Other Agenda Items

In addition to the rules under Sections D.1.a.-k., the length and order of public testimony is limited by the following:
Individuals may elect to speak for a maximum of 2 or 3 minutes per agenda item.

  1. Representatives of civic or community organizations may elect to speak for a maximum of 2, 3, or 5 minutes, per agenda item.
  2. Two (2) minute speakers will be heard first, followed by 3 minute speakers, and, finally, 5 minute speakers.
  3. On regular hearing items when lengthy public testimony is anticipated, groups are encouraged to organize to minimize repetitious testimony. Individuals are also encouraged to associate themselves with the remarks of previous speakers where applicable.

E. Motions and Other Rules of Order

1. Board members will place motions on the floor as quickly as possible to focus discussion.
2. Where no contrary procedures have been adopted by the County Board, Robert’s Rules of Order govern.

F. News Media

A brief question-and-answer period is available for the press when the Board breaks for the luncheon recess.

G. Recess

  1. At most Saturday meetings, the Board’s goal is to recess for lunch at approximately 12:30 p.m. At these meetings, the Board’s goal is to recess for the day at approximately 5 p.m.
  2. The Board’s goal at evening meetings is to recess no later than 11 p.m

H. Closed Meetings

The only items which the Board may consider in closed meetings are those permitted by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

I. Miscellaneous

    1. Special meetings, work sessions and closed meetings may be held in addition to the schedule of Regular meetings and Recessed Sessions adopted at the Organizational Meeting held annually in January. Special meeting notification requirements are governed by the Virginia Code.
    2. The Organizational Meeting is typically held on January 1 each year at 11 a.m. However, should that date fall on a Sunday, the meeting will be held the following Monday, January 2, or such other date and time in the month of January as the Board may decide.
    3. Translation services in Spanish are available at Regular Saturday meetings from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Please see the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to the County Board at the meeting for assistance. For translation services for Consent Agenda and Public Hearing items, which are typically heard later than the above time period, individuals are encouraged to call the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to the County Board at 703-228-3130 (TTY 703-228-4611) at least three (3) days prior to the meeting. Persons needing translation services in Sign Language or other languages are encouraged to call the Clerk or Deputy Clerk at least three (3) days prior to the meeting. Translation services are also available for recessed or special meetings if requested at least three days in advance by calling the Clerk or Deputy Clerk. Closed captioning and hearing assisted devices are available at County Board meetings.
    4. All County Board Regular and Recessed meetings are broadcast live on Arlington TV and include closed captioning. Streaming video of the meetings is available for viewing online at the time of the meeting, and as an archived video on the next business day following a meeting. Archived meetings can be downloaded in audio or video format from the County Board websiteArlington TV runs repeats of the most recent meetings throughout the month until the next meeting is held. A compact disk or DVD can be purchased the week after the meeting by contacting the Office of the Clerk to the County Board for price and availability information.
    5. A compact disk or DVD of the meetings can be requested by contacting the Office of the Clerk  to the County Board at 703-228-3130.