Participating in Meetings

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People attending a meeting, raising their hands

Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) Board and Committee meetings are open to the public. It can be confusing and even intimidating the first time you attend a DSRSD Board or Committee meeting, especially if you’ve never attended other formal public meetings such as a city council or school board meeting. These tips will help you understand the process and know when to speak up. It’s your right to express your opinion on matters of District business with your elected Boardmembers. They want to hear from you and value your input.

When are the Meetings?

The Board usually meets twice a month on the first and third Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Boardroom. Committees meet when needed, usually in a small conference room adjacent to the Boardroom. Days and times of all meetings, as well as the agenda packets, are posted in advance on the meetings calendar. Public Wi-Fi is available in the Boardroom with a guest login.

What's on the Agenda?

Each item on the Agenda is numbered. Use the bookmarks in the online Agenda Packet to find the documents that relate to each item. For Board meetings, there will be a Summary & Recommendation document for any item that will be discussed individually by the Board. Staff prepares this document to summarize the topic and any recommendations to the Board. For Committee meetings, a Staff Report or Memo usually fulfills the same purpose. It’s a good idea to print your own copies of any documents of interest because very few will be available at the meeting. To receive meeting agendas by email, subscribe to eNotifications.

When Should You Speak? What’s the Procedure?

Time is always reserved for public comment on any matter of concern to you and within the District’s jurisdiction. If you want to speak during a Board meeting, fill out a blue speaker card as soon as you arrive. These are available on the small table just inside the Boardroom door. Give your card to the District Secretary prior to addressing the Board. Feel free to walk up to her quietly during the meeting. She sits on the right side of the dais.

Every Board meeting agenda includes a Public Comment section, usually at the beginning of the meeting, when anyone in the audience can speak on a topic not on the meeting agenda. You may speak on any topic related to the District's jurisdiction—water, wastewater, and recycled water services. You may contact District Secretary Nicole Genzale at (925) 828-0515 if you’re unsure. If you want to comment on a topic on the meeting agenda, wait until the Board gets to that item.

The Board president will recognize each speaker (from the speaker cards). Upon calling by the Board president, you should walk up to the lectern, introduce yourself (optional), and then proceed with your comments. Your remarks may feel more like a mini presentation than a question and answer session. Boardmembers will listen and may respond briefly or ask clarifying questions, but the Ralph M. Brown Act (the law that governs public meetings) prevents them from engaging in extended dialogue with the speaker or discussing the matter. Plan to speak for less than five minutes. Your remarks may be summarized in the meeting minutes.

Committee meetings are less formal but follow a similar procedure as Board meetings. Public comment on items not on the agenda is usually taken at the start of the meeting. You will not need to fill out a speaker card. The chair of the meeting will acknowledge you if you indicate that you want to speak.

Why Doesn’t the Board Discuss Everything on the Agenda?

Items listed under Consent Calendar are routine matters that are not discussed individually. However, any Boardmember can ask that a Consent Calendar item be discussed individually, and this sometimes happens. Items listed under Board Business are discussed individually.

The Board will discuss items listed under Closed Session privately in a conference room and summarize any “reportable action” after the Closed Session ends. The Ralph M. Brown Act allows the Board or a Committee to discuss only very limited matters in Closed Session such as those related to litigation, personnel, property, and security.

What Type of Agency is DSRSD?

DSRSD is an independent special district, a government agency that is separate from the cities and counties in its service area. A five-member Board of Directors governs the District, sets policies and direction, hires its general manager, and is ultimately accountable to the people of the District. These Directors/Boardmembers are elected at large, which means they all represent all of the customers in the District’s service area.

Each Director traditionally serves on two deliberative Committees that deal with specific subjects: finance and personnel, water resources, and external affairs. These Committees are allowed to deliberate and recommend changes in District policy or direction within their scope but may not create or change policy or direction or stop a program adopted by the Board. Directors also serve on other types of committees related to the District’s relationships with other agencies. These meetings also are open to the public and are listed on the meetings calendar.

Each person sitting at the Boardroom dais (the horseshoe-shaped desk) is identified by a name placard. As you face the dais, the District's senior staff will be on your left, elected Directors in the middle, and the District's general counsel and secretary on your right. The Board president conducts the meeting (or in his or her absence, the vice president).

For a more detailed description of how the DSRSD Board functions and its responsibilities under the Ralph M. Brown Act, read Guidelines for Conducting Dublin San Ramon Services District Business.

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