Animal Control Services
Applications / Forms
Available Commercial Space
City Golf Club Program
Section 19 Specific Plan
Redevelopment Oversight Board
Scope of Duties and Authority of Commissions
The City Council is accountable to the citizens of Rancho Mirage for its actions and, therefore, cannot delegate its policy making responsibility. However, because this is a complex and far-reaching responsibility, the City Council welcomes the input of advisory bodies in the many different areas affected by municipal government. The City Council creates commissions either by adoption of an ordinance or a resolution. The ordinance or resolution adopted to create each commission includes specific language describing the duties and responsibilities of that commission. Commissioners should become familiar with the legislated duties and responsibilities assigned to the commission on which they serve.
It should be remembered that commissions, boards and committees serve as advisory bodies to the City Council; they cannot commit City resources, direct staff, or establish policy for the City. Their primary role is to increase public input and participation in the determination of City policies and operating procedures.
The staff assigned to a commission is limited to support and advisory functions for the commission. Staff handles administrative duties, provides agendas for meetings, prepares staff reports, and takes and maintains minutes. Staff members are not considered members of a commission, except as established by ordinance or by-laws, and have no authority to vote on commission matters. Because of their support position, staff members will not respond to questions from the public at a commission meeting unless requested to do so by the Chairman. Commission members needing assistance should contact the staff member assigned to the commission rather than other City staff. Additionally, contact should clearly be within the framework of the commission's assignment. Commissioners should not ask for individual reports, favors, or other special consideration.
Report to the City Council
In order for a commission to make a recommendation to the City Council, the majority of the commission must first officially vote on a motion made and seconded and approve the motion. Once approved by the commission, the recommendation will be presented to the City Council in a report prepared by staff. In instances where the staff liaison or other City staff disagree with the commission's recommendation, the staff report should also include that separate recommendation. Because commissions are advisory in nature, any recommended action must be approved by the City Council before it can be implemented. After review of a recommendation, the City Council may make a decision, or may refer the item back to staff, to the originating commission, or to another related commission for additional study.
Major Policy Considerations
If a commission wants to suggest major changes or additions to City policies, the commission should first review the issue with its assigned staff. If the issue or subsequent work to be completed is significant, the commission must request direction from the City Council before proceeding.
Informational, Statistical, and Progress Reports
Staff will make every effort to keep commissioners informed by providing reports and materials necessary to the commission in completing its work. If commission requests for support services involve substantial staff time and/or expense, they must be approved by the Department Head and/or the City Manager and/or the City Council prior to major staff work being undertaken or expenditures incurred.
Commissions are not involved in the direction, hiring, promotion, dismissal or suspension of City employees. Serious problems concerning staff performance should be directed to the staff liaison assigned to the commission or to the City Manager.
Approval from the Council, the City Manager or the Public Information Officer is required before issuing press releases (either oral or written) on behalf of the commission. The Public Information Officer (in the City Manager's Office) is available to assist the commission with the writing and distributing a release, and with obtaining necessary approvals.
Relationships with the Press
Most City commissions are not covered by the press on a regular basis, even though they receive notification of all meetings. The Public Information Officer is available on request to assist the commission with press relations. Commissioners are encouraged to refer members of the press to the staff liaison, City Manager or Public Information Officer. However, the chairman and members of all commissions should be prepared to deal with reporters who attend commission meetings or cover commission events. The best way to insure accurate press coverage of your commission's activities is to make yourself available to answer reporters' questions, or to explain the facts related to your group's actions. Openness will go a long way toward assuring a fair and accurate account of your commission's transactions. Commissioners should be aware that statements or opinions made to members of the media are considered "on the record" by reporters. All statements should be made in consideration of the likelihood that they will be printed or broadcast. Individual commission members must not represent their views or recommendations as those of the commission until the majority of the commission has officially voted to approve the recommendation. Public statements should contain no promises to the public that purport to be binding on the commission, staff, or City Council. When talking with reporters, stick to the facts of the item under consideration, and do not represent your personal views as those of either the commission or the City of Rancho Mirage.
Commissioners are free to engage in political campaigns or partisan activity while serving on a commission; however, ethics and common sense should be applied. For example, commissioners who work on a political campaign may not do so in the name of the commission. City government is a nonpartisan organization; therefore, the commissions are also nonpartisan and cannot sponsor political candidates. Commission members must be aware that staff members are expressly prohibited by state law from participating in political activities, and it is unlawful to use pubic funds to support any political activity.
Commission Relationships with the City Council
Commissions are appointed by, and responsible to, the City Council. Commissions advise and make recommendations to the City Council, using the goals, policies, and program direction of the General Plan as a guide. Commissions do not have authority to commit City resources, direct staff or establish policy. The City Council may select individual Council members to serve as a liaison to non-decision-making City commissions and boards in order to increase communications. The City Council has the final responsibility for all policy decisions. Staff reports to the City Council are the responsibility of the staff liaison. Agendas and minutes of all commission meetings are routinely sent to City Council. Individuals may disagree with the City Council on any matter, but once the Council has established its position, commission members will be expected to carry out adopted policies and programs. If a commission member is not able to accept adopted Council policies due to conflict with personal values or opinions, and these conflicts would interfere with continued commission service, resignation from the commission is the appropriate response. A majority of the City Council may remove any commission member from office at any time, with or without cause.
Commission Effectiveness and Relationships with Other Commission Members
Organized groups exist to get things done. To complete certain tasks, to achieve certain agreed upon purposes or goals. In the case of City commissions, their purposes and goals come from the General Plan and state law, and are reflected in the resolutions or ordinances which create them. The success or failure of the efforts of a commission is dependent upon the degree of cooperation among the individual members of the body. In order to build a consensus around common goals and objectives, members will have to reconcile opposing viewpoints and show a willingness to define and consider the ultimate issues objectively. A positive and open climate encourages member involvement and responsibility to take action. All members of a commission share responsibility for creating and maintaining a positive and open meeting climate so that all can participate. Optimum participation is achieved when the commission's stated tasks are understood. Members should keep the tasks visible and clearly defined.
Effective Commissions Pay Attention to the Following Functions and Behaviors:
An important way to develop cooperation is for each commission member to ensure that meetings proceed in an open and orderly manner. The Chairman is primarily responsible for seeing that meetings are conducted in an orderly manner, that consideration of agenda items moves along expeditiously, and that members of the public are given the opportunity to attend meetings and address the commission in a manner consistent with the California Public Meeting laws (the Brown Act). The Vice Chairman should be prepared to serve as Chairman in the event that the Chairman is absent. Each member can assist the Chairman by knowing the basic rules of parliamentary procedure and open meeting laws, by understanding the mission of their commission, and by adequately preparing for meetings.
Attendance at commission meetings is important to the continuity of the group. Members who are not able to attend meetings should notify the staff liaison in advance of the scheduled meeting. An excused absence must fall into one of three categories: (1) injury to or illness of member, (2) family emergency related to illness or injury, or (3) acts of God, such as flood or fire. Any member who is absent from three consecutive regular meetings or from twenty-five percent of the scheduled meetings within any fiscal year due to unexcused absences will automatically be removed from the commission.
It is important to remember that members of a commission come from different backgrounds-educational, occupational, religious, social, economic, physical and cultural. Advisory groups such as commissions exist to broaden the view of the City Council and staff, giving a community-wide perspective. All members contribute in their own ways and are important parts of the decision-making process. Bearing this in mind, the following guidelines should be observed:
Relationships with the Public
Commissioners are encouraged to seek out and become aware of public opinion relating to matters considered by the commission on which they serve, and to welcome citizen input at commission meetings and hearings. All commission meetings are open to the public, shall be conducted using Roberts Rules of Order, and shall be considered pursuant to the Brown Act. Each meeting agenda shall include a specific time for public comment. Each commission is expected to conduct meetings in a manner that allows members of the public an opportunity to speak on issues on the agenda. Public comment period may be limited to three (3) minutes per speaker, but this time frame may be adjusted at the discretion of the Chairman.
Commissioners are encouraged to explore opportunities to increase public participation in commission meetings and activities. Commission members should conduct themselves at public meetings in a manner that is fair, understanding, and as gracious as circumstances permit. Members should be considerate of all interests, attitudes and differences of opinion. Members should take care to observe the appearance as well as the principle of impartiality.
Commissioners are reminded that they are representatives of the City of Rancho Mirage. The City serves a diverse population and has specific policies against discrimination. Commissioners need to be careful to avoid statements that might be interpreted as discriminatory against any individual or group.
Commissioners should not accept gifts from applicants or other persons concerned with matters which have been or might come before the commission. Acceptance of gifts by commission members is subject to limits imposed by the Fair Political Practices Commission of the State of California. If a question concerning gifts arises, commissioners should contact the City Manager or the City Attorney for guidance.
Relationships with the City Council should be kept in mind in communicating with the public or the media. Commissioners are considered by the public to be members of and spokespersons for the official City family. A commissioner has a responsibility to advocate his or her position on a policy matter prior to the City Council's action on that matter. It would, however, be inappropriate for commissioners, as representatives of the City, to publicly criticize established Council policies or Council members once official action has been taken. If a commissioner experiences serious conflict between his/her opinions on policy matters and City Council actions, resignation from the commission may be the appropriate response.
How to Become a Commission Member
Qualified persons are nominated by City Council members and are considered and voted on by the entire Council. A majority vote is needed to ratify appointments.
Any person interested in applying for a position on a commission may fill out an application form, which is available from the City Clerk. At least once each year, the City will advertise in "MIRAGESCAPE" and local newspapers to notify the public of vacancies and possible appointive opportunities. Through this method a pool of potential candidates is created and maintained to fill vacancies.
Vacancies exist whenever a commission or board member's regular term expires or whenever a commission seat becomes vacant.
Selection for Appointment to Commissions is Generally Based on the Following:
How to Resign From a Commission
It is important that all commission members attend and actively participate in meetings of their commission. Commission members who are unable to continue their service for reasons of health, business requirements, change of residency outside the City, or personal reasons should submit a formal letter of resignation to the City Clerk with a copy to their commission Chairman. A commission member may be removed from office at any time by a majority vote of the City Council.
It is important to remember that if a commissioner is elected or appointed to the City Council, service as a commissioner automatically terminates on the date that a new City Council is seated.