City Councils

Find city councils. City councils provide information about mayors, council members, city halls, voter registration, and voting locations.

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About City Councils

What is a City Council?

A City Council is the legislative body for a city government. The City Council governs and sets policy for city government. Cities derive their authority from the states, and the City Council is responsible for exercising that authority. Common powers and duties of City Councils include adopting and operating capital budgets, setting tax rates, authorizing borrowing, adopting ordinances and resolutions, and approving contracts. City Councils have substantial authority over regulating land use, business activity, and public health and safety, in addition to exercising eminent domain. The City Council also oversees city staff and operations.

Most of the business conducted by City Councils takes place at City Council meetings, which are usually held once or twice per month. City Council meetings are open to the public. State statutes typically require that notice of City Council meetings and the meeting agendas must be posted in advance, and that meeting minutes must be published and made available within a certain timeframe. Many cities televise City Council meetings and an increasing number live-stream their meetings on the internet.

Most City Councils provide some opportunity for the general public to address the Council during their meetings. For some City Council actions, state statutes may require that the public be permitted to provide comment during a public hearing. In addition to the work conducted by the full Council, many City Councils utilize a committee structure to conduct preliminary review and consideration of business that comes before the Council.

City Councils are elected bodies. Most City Councils are comprised of at-large members, while some are made up of members that represent districts or wards within the city. The vast majority of City Councils are non-partisan, though elections in some cities do note a candidate's party affiliation on the ballot. City Council size varies significantly, reaching as many as several dozen members in large cities. More commonly, City Councils range in size from five to 15 members. Most City Council positions are considered part-time and typically receive little or no compensation. For those that do receive compensation, pay tends to correspond to city size. City Council terms generally range between two and four years.