- Request for information on typical city council committees.
There is no statute that specifically addresses the establishment and operation of internal city council committees, we believe the authority for this can be found in RCW 35A.12.120, which provides, in part:
The council shall determine its own rules and order of business and may establish rules for the conduct of council meetings and the maintenance of order.
Under this authority, the city council may enact rules and regulations to govern the conduct and operations of the city council. This authority includes the ability to determine if and when standing committees will be utilized, what the committees will be, how they will conduct their business, and how their members will be appointed. Many city councils have adopted rules of procedure to address these issues.
It is hard to say with much certainty what types of committees are most typical. There is not as much uniformity out there as one might expect. No two cities are exactly alike. The duties, responsibilities and operations of council committees under this same authority are all matters for the city council to determine. The duties and responsibilities of individual council committees are generally established by council ordinance or resolution. If the council has not yet adopted such rules you may want to consider doing so. MRSC’s Web page on “Council/Board of Commissioners Rules of Procedure” may be of some assistance for this purpose.
The only national survey we have seen on this was done by the International City/County Management Association back in 1993 ("Use of Council Committees in Local Government," Baseline Date Report, May/June 1993). That survey distinguished between "standing" and "ad hoc" committees. Standing committees are permanent bodies with jurisdiction over specific on-going policy areas such as finance and public safety. Ad hoc committees are temporary committees established to investigate and advise on more short-term issues and problems. That report observed:
Although standing committees cover a wide range of policy areas, some types of committee are more prevalent among local governments. Among the standard types are planning and zoning, community development, parks and recreation, cable television, civil service, budget and finance, beautification and code enforcement, and senior citizen services committees.
Based on a limited review of Washington municipal codes the most common city council committees appear to be budget/finance, public safety, community development, public works and parks/recreation or some combination of these. Since there are no required council committees, whether and what type of committees a city should have is strictly a matter of local policy.
The following Web pages include brief descriptions of council committees:
We have included municipal code excerpts below detailing the council committees established in several Washington cities:
The Council shall have three (3) standing committees:
I. Finance and Budget
II. Community Development and Land Use
III. General Government
Mount Vernon Municipal Code, Title 2, Sec. 2.12.130 – Committees
Web page on Bonney Lake Council Committees
2.04.860 Definition and scope of council standing committees.
The standing committees of the council and the scope of their duties are described as follows. The council may amend these committees as they deem necessary. All issues for council meeting agendas shall be reviewed by the appropriate council committee, except those issues identified as approved for council workshops or as council may approve, prior to submitting to the city clerk for scheduling. Each council standing committee shall meet and hold meetings a minimum of 12 times per year.
A. Finance Committee. The chair of the finance committee shall be the deputy mayor. The chairs of the community development committee and the public safety committee shall also serve on this committee with the deputy mayor.
The finance committee was created for the purpose of advising the city council on matters concerning the general fiscal and financial operations of the city, budget and financial reports, policy matters related to city finances and personnel, including, but not limited to, the salary grade schedule, position classifications and salary changes in coordination with the mayor, finance officer and city administrator.
B. Voucher Review Committee. The chair of the voucher review committee shall be the deputy mayor. The voucher review committee was created for the purpose of reviewing all monthly city payable vouchers and payroll and to make recommendations to the city council for payment approval of the city's expenditures at a minimum of twice per month.
C. Public Safety Committee. The public safety committee was created for the purpose of advising the city council on matters concerning the overall safety of the citizens who live within our community that pertain to police and fire protection, the municipal court, emergency services and animal control in coordination with the police department, fire department and civil service commission.
D. Community Development Committee. The community development committee was created for the purpose of advising the city council on matters related to the planning of the physical, economic, aesthetic, cultural and social development of the city zoning codes, building codes, sign codes, annexation policies, parks and recreation and all city utilities in coordination with the planning department, planning commission, building department, parks department and the public works department. (Ord. 890 1(16.1), 2001).
2.08.010Established - Designated Membership.
There shall be appointed by the mayor to serve during his pleasure, the following standing committees:
A. A committee on public health, consisting of three members;
B. A committee on streets, alleys and sidewalks, consisting of three members;
C. A committee on police, fire protection and water supply, consisting of three members;
D. A committee on audit and finance, consisting of three members;
E. A committee on license, consisting of three members. (Ord. 8, 1910)
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2.36.030 Council chairperson.
2.36.040 Council vice-chairperson.
Section 2.36.010 Establishment.
The following legislative committees are established to be comprised of members of the city council of the city, with the purpose and duties as set forth:
A. Community Development Committee. The primary purpose of the Community Development Committee is to review and advise upon on all matters of policy coming before the city council involving the physical and economic development of the city, including subdivision, housing, building and zoning matters, development and redevelopment, downtown economic and physical development, environmental quality issues, and such other matters as may be assigned to this committee.
B. Finance and Operations Committee. The primary purpose of the Finance and Operations Committee is to review and advise upon on all matters of policy coming before the city council involving city financial affairs and on general operations of the city, including the review of all requisition vouchers for payment; personnel matters of the city; general administration; grants and interlocal agreements, and such other matters as may be assigned to this committee.
C. Public Health and Safety Committee. The primary purpose of this committee is to review and advise upon on all matters of policy coming before the city council involving public health, welfare, and safety pertaining to the city, including public health, animal control, fire and police protection and law enforcement, and such other matters as may be assigned to this committee.
D. Utilities and Public Facilities Committee. The primary purpose of this committee is to review and advise upon all matters of policy coming before the city council involving facilities of the city, including streets, parks, public buildings, and utility operations and capital activities, including water and wastewater systems and operations; solid waste collection and disposal including recycling and waste reduction; maintenance and improvement of all city properties and infrastructure, and such other matters as may be assigned to this committee. (Ord. 481 § 1, 1993; Ord. 374 § 1, 1988)
Section 2.12.050 Standing committees.
The mayor shall appoint the following standing council committees: Finance, police/fire, streets, parks and recreation and water/sewer. Each committee shall have three members. The mayor may also establish and appoint members to other special committees from time to time as he or she deems necessary. Each special committee shall have three members. (Ord. 569 § 1, 1991: Ord. 110 § 2 (part), 1936; Ord. 19 § 1 (Rule 5), 1906)
2.01.070 Council committees.
The following designated committees shall be standing committees of the City Council and the membership of each committee shall be appointed by a majority vote of the Council for the respective term of the councilmembers so appointed or as otherwise determined by the City Council:
A. Finance and Personnel Committee. This committee shall be primarily responsible for all matters relating to fiscal policies of the City, including but not limited to appropriations, income and revenues, the auditing of expenditures and claims, as well as reviewing personnel issues as directed by the Mayor or City Council.
B. Public Works Committee. This committee shall be primarily responsible for all matters pertaining to the environment, pollution, waste disposal, construction, renovation, modification and maintenance of public works facilities, including but not limited to municipal water and sewer systems, garbage and storm sewer systems and all other matters and issues directly or indirectly related to these subjects.
C. Streets Committee. This committee shall be primarily responsible for all matters pertaining to street and right-of-way improvements, including maintenance and operation thereof, and recommendations regarding capital improvements and acquisitions.
D. Public Safety and Parks Committee. This committee shall be primarily responsible for all matters pertaining to health and safety, animal control, public safety, and recreation, including the operation, function, maintenance, and acquisition of City parks, and all other matters and issues related thereto.
At each City Council meeting a report from the standing committee shall be made by the committee chairperson or other designee. When needed, staff assistance to a committee shall be assigned by the Mayor. No committee shall consist of more than two city council members. The committees shall not have any authority to act on behalf of the whole City Council nor shall such committees conduct hearings or take testimony or public comment.
(Added Ord. 745, 1995)
2.08.010Designated--Mayor to appoint.
2.08.010Designated--Mayor to appoint.
There shall be appointed by the Mayor to serve during his pleasure the following standing committees:
(a) A committee on audit and airport, consisting of three members;
(b) A committee on parks, consisting of three members;
(c) A committee on streets and alleys, consisting of three members;
(d) A committee on police, fire, and licenses, consisting of three members;
(e) A committee on cemetery, consisting of three members;
(f) A committee on water and sewer, consisting of three members;
(g) A committee on sanitation and public health, consisting of three members;
(h) A committee on personnel, consisting of three members. (Ord. 1036, 1988: Ord. 423 § 1, 1960).
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The following standing committees of the City Council are created and established:
(1) Public Administration and Finance;
(2) Public Safety;
(3) Planning and Public Works;
(4) Parks and Human Services;
(5) Regional Affairs. (Ord. 1817 § 1 (part), 1994: Ord. 1573 § 2, 1990: Ord. 1232 § 1 (part), 1985: Ord. 635 § 1, 1974).
2.04.030Council committees and representatives.
A. The Council shall sit as a Committee of the Whole on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7:00 p.m., except that if at any time any Committee meeting falls on a holiday, the Council shall meet on the next business day at the same hour. Council committees shall meet at Tukwila City Hall, unless otherwise publicly announced.
B. Meetings of the Committee of the Whole shall be held primarily for the purpose of considering current problems of the City and coordinating the work of individual committees of the City Council. The Committee of the Whole shall have no power to take any official action other than to refer matters to committees or to a regular Council meeting. The Council President shall set the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting.
C. The Council shall meet as a Committee of the Whole in a planning retreat at the beginning of each year in order to plan their agenda and set their goals for that year. The time and place of the retreat shall generally be held on the third weekend in January.
D. Results of the Committee of the Whole's planning retreat will be discussed in a joint session with the Mayor and administration in order to establish mutual City goals.
E. There are established the following four standing committees of the Council that shall consist of three members each. The Council President shall appoint the membership of each committee and the committee chairmen by the second regular meeting of each year. The chairman of each committee shall set the schedule of meetings and cause them to be published. The committee chairman shall set the agenda of the committee meetings. The standing committees shall consider, and may make policy and legislative recommendations to the City Council on, items referred to the committee by the Council President, the Council, administrative departments, boards or commissions. If budgeted in an amount less than or equal to $25,000, a committee can approve a bid or negotiation award by an affirmative vote of three committee members. If a unanimous committee vote is not obtained, the award will be referred to the City Council for action. The standing committees, their scope of authority and the supporting City departments are as follows:
1. Transportation Committee, which shall consider matters related to transportation, transportation plans, traffic, transit, streets, street lighting, signals, and street LID's, in coordination with the Public Works Department and Planning Department.
2. Utilities Committee, which shall consider matters related to water, sewer, electric power, natural gas, telephone, cable television, storm drainage, river basins and levies, in coordination with the Public Works Department.
3. Finance and Safety Committee, which shall consider matters related to the general fiscal and financial operations of the City; budget and financial reports, policy matters related to personnel, including, but not limited to, the salary grade schedule, position classifications and salary changes in coordination with the Finance Department and City Administrator; and matters related to police and fire protection, the Municipal Court, emergency services and animal control, in coordination with the Police Department, Fire Department, Civil Service Commission and City Clerk.
4. Community Affairs and Parks Committee, which shall consider matters related to the planning of the physical, economic, aesthetic, cultural and social development of the City Zoning Code, Building Code, Sign Code, and annexation policies, in coordination with the Planning Department, Planning Commission, Arts Commission, Hearing Examiner, and Sister Cities Committee; and shall consider matters relating to parks and park lands, recreation facilities and activities, in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks Commission.
F. The Council President may establish such ad hoc committees as may be appropriate to consider special matters that do not readily fit the standing committee structure or that require special approach or emphasis. The Council President shall appoint Council representatives to intergovernmental councils, boards and committees by the third regular meeting of each year. These agencies may include the Puget Sound Council of Governments (two representatives), Puget Sound Energy Committee, and Policy Advisory Committee for the Port of Seattle.
G. Council committees shall consider all matters referred. The committee chairman shall report to the Council the findings of the committee. Committees may refer items to the Council with no committee recommendation.
H. The legislative analyst shall be responsible for preparing and causing to be distributed all agendas and minutes of committee meetings.
(Ord. 1796 §3(part), 1997; Ord. 1421 §2, 1987; Ord. 1311 §5, 1984)
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2.04.070Council standing committees.
A. Created. There are created the following committees of the city council, with the staff member designated in parenthesis being the committee's administrative liaison and resource person:
1. Human resources/government (clerk-treasurer);
2. Finance (clerk-treasurer);
3. Public safety (police and fire chiefs);
4. Public utilities (public works director);
5. Parks and recreation (public works director).
B. Mayor as Ex Officio Member. In addition, the mayor shall be an ex officio member to all the above committees.
C. Assignment of Members--Chair. Each standing committee shall be composed of two councilmembers. Councilmembers shall be assigned to a committee as determined by the mayor and city council after each council election or more frequently, but in no event more frequently than annually unless vacancies occur. A chair shall be designated by the committee or the mayor and full council as the council and mayor shall elect.
(Ord. 843 § 3 (part), 1997)
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