A council person is an elected member of a local city or town government. City councils serve as the legislative branch of city governments and vote on laws and proposals relating to various community issues. Council persons make legislative decisions dealing with topics such as the allocation of funding to provide for public services, community development projects, or issues of land use and budget matters. Council members are usually elected from designated districts or wards to terms of four years on the council.
A city council has the authority to approve operating and capital budgets that are recommended by the city’s mayor, and continually oversees revenues and expenditures for local government operations, according to the New Orleans City Council. Working towards the establishment of a solid budget proposal is one of the primary duties of a council person. It affects every other aspect of their legislative powers by establishing priorities and allocating resources for city projects and services. Council members also conduct review hearings on how city agency programs are working and whether budgeted funds are being well spent, according to the New York City Council.
Land Use and Community Development
City council persons have the power to review and implement policies relating to the use of city land. Council members vote to approve zoning changes, housing and urban renewal plans, and community development plans, according the New York City Council. Any real estate transactions regarding city property are also under the purview of council members.
Providing for basic public services and responding to the concerns of their constituents is an important responsibility of council persons. City councils vote on legislative matters such as street repairs and garbage and recycling programs, and they serve as the regulatory body for public utilities. Most of the laws on which city councils vote are referred by the mayor’s office, but council members can also initiate legislation. Council members are responsible to their constituents and will often propose new programs at the suggestion of local residents, according to the Rochester City Council in New York State.