What We Do
The Detroit City Council, one of the country's few full-time City legislative bodies, consists of nine (9) members elected at large for a four-year term. The City Council was first constituted as the legislative body of the City in 1824 (replacing a Board of Trustees) and was called the Common Council until July 1, 1974 - the effective date of Detroit's new City Charter.
If a vacancy occurs on the City Council thirty (30) days or more before the filing deadline for the general election in the City or a special City-wide election, the vacancy shall be filled at that election for the remainder of the unexpired term. If a vacancy occurs on City Council less than thirty (30) days before the filing deadline for a general election in the City, or special City-wide election, the vacancy shall not be filled until the subsequent general election in the City, or until the special City-wide election.
Council Members must be citizens of the United States, a resident of the City and at least 18 years of age at the time of filing. The Elected Officials Compensation Commission sets the Compensation of Council Members.
The Council Member receiving the highest number of votes is President of the Council, and the Council Member receiving the next highest number of votes is President Pro Tempore.
The City Council adopts such rules, as it deems necessary to govern its procedure and order of business. The City Council provides for the keeping of a journal of its proceedings. The journal is a public record. The City Clerk is Clerk of the Council.
The Council adopts the City's annual budget thereby establishing City government service programs and objectives for the year. Following the submittal of the Mayor's proposed budget to City Council, Council evaluates departmental objectives and performance to determine spending and program priorities for the delivery of city services.
Based on monitoring and investigation of the day-to-day operation of City government, the Council makes and amends the laws (Ordinances) to govern the operation of the City.
Some of the day-to-day Council activities are:
1. Approval of contracts involving City business.
2. Approval of changes in the City's budget.
3. Approval of the sale or disposition of City property.
4. Approval of the settlement of civil litigations involving the City.
5. Receiving complaints, petitions and reports affecting the operation of the City or the well being of its citizens.
6. Advocating for the City's and Detroiter's at other levels of government via resolutions, testimony and statements for the record.
The City Council monitors the administration of City government and City Departments to see that laws and programs are operating effectively and in the best interest of citizens. Assisting in this task is an Auditor General appointed by City Council to a ten-year non-renewable term; to make periodic audits of all city agencies; an Ombudsman appointed by City Council for a ten-year non-renewable term to investigate complaints against City departments, make recommendations and work with city departments to find solutions; a City Planning Commission appointed by City Council to advise on the social, physical and economic aspects of planning and development matters; a Historic Designation Advisory Board appointed by the City Council to advise on designation of historic sites and districts; a Research and Analysis Division to provide research and advise on matters requiring legislative action; and a Fiscal Analysis Division to research the fiscal implications of pending actions and advise on matters impacting the City budget. The Directors of all divisions are appointed by City Council. The Council also appoints the Director of the Board of Zoning Appeals as well as the seven members of the BZA. The council also appoints the nine-member Property Assessment Board of Review that hears appeals of assessments of property taxes and appeals for hardship exemptions.
City Council must approve the Mayor's appointees to the Board of Police Commissioners, the Human Rights Department and the Director of the Law Department. The Council nominates five members for the Cable Commission and the Mayor selects four.
The City Council President serves on the Board of the Detroit Transit Corporation and is an ex-Officio on the Employee Benefits board, and the Executive Committee of the Southeast Michigan Council on Governments. The City Council President also chairs all formal sessions, evening community meetings and executive sessions of the Council.
City Council has one representative each on the General Retirement Pension Board and the Police and Firefighters Pension Board.
As mandated by the City Charter, City Council holds eight community meetings in the evening in various geographic areas of the City. The City Planning Commission arranges these meetings for Council.