Perhaps the most fundamental—and most visible—of all its powers is the power the Council wields in the enactment of local laws and policies. Council determines what municipal services and programs will be provided, to whom, at what cost, and the degree or quality expected. The following is a representative sampling of some of the major legislative responsibilities of the City Council:
- Enacting local laws. The Council, in its capacity as the legislative body of the City, has authority to legislate in interests of local affairs and local matters, to regulate and license businesses, to provide for the common defense of the community, and to protect and preserve the safety, health, and welfare of the community. For a general summary of the legislative powers of the City Council, see Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 5.
- Transacting the business of the City. Where not otherwise provided by law, the Council is has full authority to transact the business of city government. This includes creating and organizing offices, departments, and divisions to implement and administer city policies and regulations, services, and programs. See Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 3 § 11 and Chapter 4 § 19-20. The Council also has the authority to make arrangements for the joint exercise of municipal powers through agreements with other governmental units, appoint individuals to serve on intergovernmental bodies, conduct the City’s business with federal and state agencies, and participate in intergovernmental programs. Minn. Stat. § 465.58 and § 471.59.
- Managing the financial affairs of the City. The Council has full authority over City finances, including but not limited to:
- Apportioning and levying taxes for the purpose of carrying out the purposes of local government –Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 5 § 10;
- Adopting the City’s budget to fund government operations – Minn. Stat. § 275.065 and § 412.701, Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 5 § 8, 10;
- Auditing and settling accounts –Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 13;
- Safekeeping and disbursement of public monies –Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 14;
- Designating depositories – Minn. Stat. § 118A.02 and § 427.01-.02, Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 5 § 27; and
- Approving settlements - Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 3 § 11.
- Providing for the general health and welfare of the City and its inhabitants. This broad grant of authority includes the following:
- Serving as the Minneapolis Board of Public Health with all powers and authorities prescribed under Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 145, as set forth under Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 14;
- Providing for initiation or defense of actions at law where the City is an interested party – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 1 § 2;
- Laying out, arranging, constructing, and maintaining the public infrastructure, including streets and roadways, bridges and culverts, and other public grounds, and to name such streets, and to regulate the use of the same – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 8 and Chapter 4 § 5;
- Constructing or acquiring and maintaining structures and buildings necessary for the City’s purposes and to control, protect, and insure public buildings, property, and records, and to regulate the construction of buildings within the City – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 1 § 2 and Chapter 4 § 5;
- Provide for the suppression of fire and fire-related emergencies, the establishment of a fire department and its officers and personnel, and to prevent, control, and extinguish fires – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 7;
- Providing for the common health of the community by regulating the use of wells, cisterns, reservoirs, and other types of water supply, and controlling and regulating the disposal of solid waste, sewage, garbage, and other unwholesome substances, and to regulate sewer and water connections within the city – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 5 and Chapter 9;
- Regulating the keeping of animals – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 5; and
- Regulating and preventing or abating noise and nuisances – Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 5 and Chapter 4 § 12.
- Judging the qualifications and election of Council Members. The Council is empowered to evaluate the credentials of individuals elected as Council Members. This includes the certification of results for municipal elections, determining whether an individual has the necessary qualifications to hold office, and deciding whether a vacancy on the Council exists. Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 4 § 3.
- Setting and enforcing rules to govern its proceedings. The Council has exclusive authority to establish rules to govern its proceedings and to preserve order during its meetings. Minneapolis City Charter, Chapter 3 § 1.
This is not a comprehensive checklist of all the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the City Council. It does, however, provide a general synopsis of its responsibilities as well as the diverse nature of the official duties and functions it performs. Plenary sessions of the City Council are generally held twice each month, usually on the second and fourth Fridays, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Chamber (Room 317) at City Hall, located at 350 South Fifth Street in downtown Minneapolis. See current calendar of regular meetings of the City Council and its standing committees. For more information, contact the Office of City Clerk at 612-673-2216.
- Legislative Publications & Resources
- Minnesota Statutues
Last updated Jan. 22, 2014