The City Council is a seven member Council elected at-large by the residents of Livonia. There are four (4) Councilmembers elected every two years. The three (3) receiving the highest number of votes are elected to four (4) year terms. The fourth highest vote receiver is elected to a two (2) year term. The position is part-time and Councilmembers attend meetings two or three evenings a week. Councilmembers shall be prohibited from seeking reelection after having served two (2) consecutive terms in that particular office.
The President and Vice President of the Council are determined as a direct result of the election. The individual receiving the largest number of votes is the President and the individual receiving the second largest number of votes is the Vice President. The President and Vice President hold the positions for two years until the next City election.
The City Council has four major responsibilities:
- Oversee the budget and approve expenditures
- Zoning of all land
- Enact city ordinances
- Approve the construction, installation or improvements of all roads, sewers and drains, sidewalks and streetlights in the City
Oversee the budget
Under the City Charter; the Mayor submits a budget to the Council. The Council may approve the budget as submitted, or they may change by adding or deleting. Any dispersal of the City monies must be approved by the Council if it is not a budgeted item or if it exceeds $15,000.
The Council makes the final determination on the use of land within the City. Any developments or construction must go through a series of meetings and/or public hearings before it can receive approval. The Council follows the guidelines of the Zoning Ordinance.
Enact City Ordinances
Ordinances are the local laws of the City. The Council amends and enacts new ordinances each year, usually in response to recommendations from City departments aimed at solving recurrent problems or to bring City ordinances in line with State law.
Approve the construction, installation or improvement of roads, sewers and drains, sidewalks and streetlights
New construction or improvement of all roads, sewers and drains, sidewalks and streetlights, must be approved by the Council. These improvements are paid by several different methods: (1) Special Assessment; (2) Single Lot Assessment; (3) City picks up the entire cost or may share in the cost.
Anyone may request a matter to appear on a Study agenda by writing a letter to the Council. No vote is taken at a Study meeting; the public may speak on any issue on or off the agenda. At the Study meetings Councilmembers ask questions and gather information required for decision making.
Regular Business Meetings
Are held twice monthly as required by City Charter. After the Council has received input on agenda items at the Study meeting, or at a public hearing or Committee meeting, then they take action-vote-on the issue. Generally there is little discussion at a Regular meeting.
Public Hearings are held as required by State law or City ordinance and cannot be waived by the Council. These hearings are published in the official newspaper of the City (Livonia Observer) a designated number of days in advance of the hearings as required by law.
Committee Meetings There are seven standing committees of the Council with three (3) Councilmembers serving on each Committee. There is also a Committee of the Whole, chaired by the President and composed of the entire Council. The Chairperson of each Committee determines when a Committee meeting is to be held and sets the agenda for that meeting. Items that require more in depth study are referred to Committees and the Committee makes a recommendation to the Council.
Citizens Complaints Complaints should first be submitted to the department involved for appropriate action. If settlement is not received at the department level, a formal complaint can be made to the Information and Complaint Center who then forwards it to the department. The resident receives a copy with a self-addressed postcard to be returned to the Mayor, who is the Chief Elected/Administrative Official of the City, if they are not satisfied with the solution.
However, any resident may make a written complaint to the City Council. The communication may be placed on a Study meeting agenda and the resident is notified to attend the meeting so that the Council can personally discuss the problem with the resident in detail. The Council then takes the appropriate action by referring the complaint to the appropriate administrative department at the Regular meeting.
The Legislative Process
If the meeting is a "Study Meeting"
A "Study Meeting" is the meeting at which the Council initially hears a petition, or a citizen’s request, or an item from the administration. No vote is taken: it is an information-gathering meeting only. A "Study Meeting" is held prior to each Regular Meeting. The Council will gather the facts and information from the petitioner, other citizens, department heads, and other interested or affected agencies. The matter is then scheduled for a Regular Meeting where action is taken by resolution and vote of the Council.
If the meeting is a "Regular Meeting"
The "Regular Meeting" is the formal session held twice a month as required by Charter at which voting action is taken by the Council in the form of a resolution or ordinance adoption. The agenda items have been discussed at a prior meeting, i.e., a study session, a public hearing or at a sub-committee level. The agenda for the Regular Meeting contains a section entitled "Consent Agenda". All items listed under this heading have been discussed previously by Council and have been determined not to be controversial in nature and one vote is taken from each member of the Council on the "Consent Agenda". Any item may be removed from the Consent Agenda by a member of Council and a separate vote on that item can be taken. The remainder of the agenda is "Information to Council, Unfinished Business, New Business, Reports from Committees or extra (X-Items) items. Each resolution is offered and seconded and each member of Council will be called by the City Clerk to vote. The usual types of resolutions are: approving, denying, no further action, rescinding, amending, or referral to Committee or an administrative department. The Council also sets the dates for Public Hearings, which are required by law for all ordinance changes. Upon the approval of the minutes at the next Regular Meeting, the voting action of the Council takes effect.
If the meeting is a "Public Hearing"
The "Public Hearing" is a meeting of record and official minutes are kept. This is the meeting when citizens are made aware of all ordinance changes and are asked to state their positions. Everyone wishing to be heard is given the opportunity. After all parties are heard, the Council will request the City Attorney to prepare one or more of the following: a resolution of approval, denial, no further action, or referral. The matter will then be referred to a study meeting for further information gathering or to a "Regular Meeting" for a vote.
If the meeting is a "Committee of the Whole"
The Council frequently will meet as the "Committee of the Whole". This is a full Council meeting called by and presided over by the Council President with the special purpose of studying a limited number of items only; no vote is taken. All recommendations reached at these meetings are referred back to a "Regular Meeting" for final action.
If the meeting is a "Special"
"Special" meetings of the City Council may be called by the Mayor or any three members of the City Council upon due notice.
If the meeting is a "Sub-Committee"
If the meeting is a "Sub-Committee" it is generally held in the Council Chambers on the Second Floor of City Hall. Each member of the Council is a chairperson of one (1) committee and sits as a committee member on two (2) others, except the President of the Council who chairs the Committee of the Whole and is an ex officio member of each sub-committee. Petitions or other Council matters are frequently referred from a "Regular Meeting" to a sub-committee for in-depth study. When the sub-committee completes its study, it will recommend to the Council a course of action. At a following Regular Meeting, the full Council will act.
All meetings of the Council, except for very few situations such as negotiations for land purchases, are open to the public. Notices of meetings are posted and in the case of Public Hearings a notice is published in the local newspaper. The minutes of Regular Meetings and all ordinances are also published in the local paper. All Study and Regular Meetings of the Council are televised live over cable television. Citizens and petitioners addressing the Council are requested to utilize the microphone provided as official minutes are being recorded of your comments. Speak clearly and begin with your name and address when called upon.