The Detroit Charter and City Government
ARTICLE 4. THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
CHAPTER 1. CITY COUNCIL
Annotations By: Jacqueline Bejma
Sec. 4-101. City Council
The City Council is the City’s legislative body. It has the powers and duties provided by law or this Charter.
Sec. 4-102. Meetings
The city council will hold meetings starting the first week of January after the general election
For 10 months per year, the city council must meet daily
City council must hold 8 meetings during the calendar year, in different areas of the city, which will begin between 7 and 8 p.m.
Special meetings can be held at the request of the mayor or 4 members of council with 24 hours notice
All city council meetings must be held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act
The City Council shall hold its first (1st) meeting in the first (1st) week of January after the regular city general election and, during ten (10) months of the year, shall meet every business day unless otherwise provided by resolution at such times and places as it may provide.
On at least eight (8) occasions during each calendar year, the City Council shall hold meetings in areas of the city, to be determined by the City Council. Those meetings shall begin between the hours of seven (7) o’clock P.M. and eight (8) o’clock P.M.
Special meetings may be held at the call of the Mayor or four (4) or more City Council members and, whenever practicable, upon no less than twenty-four (24) hours notice to each member and to the public.
All business which the City Council may perform shall be conducted at a public meeting held in compliance with the Michigan Open Meetings Act, 1976 PA267, MCL 15.261, et. seq.; MSA 4.1800, et. seq.
Sec. 4-103. Selection of Council President and President Pro-Tempore
City Council President and President Pro Tempore will be chosen by the city council body
City Council President or President ProTempore may be removed by a unanimous vote of the body
City Council President and President Pro-Tempore serve for four years.
In case of vacancy in the Office of President, the President ProTempore fills the seat for the unexpired term or until the return of the President in cases of succession to the office of Mayor
A vacancy in the office of President ProTempore is filled by a majority vote of members of City Council
City Council shall select its President and President Pro-Tempore from among its members by majority vote of the members serving at its first regular session in 2014. The term for City Council President and President Pro-Tempore shall be four (4) years. Selection of the President and President Pro-Tempore shall be every four years.
Members serving in the offices of President or President Pro-Tempore may be removed from their office by a unanimous vote of all members serving, exclusive of the officer being removed. If an officer is removed, the basis and vote for removal shall be publicly recorded in the minutes of City Council at a public meeting.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of President, including by removal or temporary absence, the President Pro-Tempore shall serve as President for the unexpired term in the case of vacancy or removal, or until the return of the President in the case of absence due to succession under section 5-109 or otherwise. Any vacancy in the office of President Pro-Tempore shall be filled by majority vote of members serving on the City Council for the unexpired term. However, if the office of President Pro-Tempore becomes available because of succession under section 5-109, City Council shall select a President Pro-Tempore to serve until the return of the President and resulting resumption of the office by the President Pro-Tempore.
Sec. 4-104. Duties of the Council President
City council president presides over all city council meetings and has administrative responsibility for the council
The president of the City Council shall preside at all regular session meetings of the City Council. The president shall have administrative responsibility on behalf of the City Council.
The City Council shall provide in its rules for the duties and responsibilities of the council president.
Sec. 4-105. Rules and Journal
City council determines its own rules and must keep a log of its proceedings
The log of proceedings must be public record
The City Council shall determine its own rules and order of business and shall provide for keeping a journal of its proceedings in the English language. The journal shall be a public record.
Sec. 4-106. Standing Committee Structure
Budget and Finance
Neighborhood and community services
Law and Public Safety
Planning and Economic Development
City council president appoints the chairperson of each standing committee with approval of a majority of city council
Number of committees and number of members per committee will be determined by city council
Only members of the committee will vote on matters before the committee
City council president is ex-officio member of all committees
The City Council shall provide for a standing committee structure by its rules which committees may include, but not be limited to the following areas:
- Budget and Finance;
- Neighborhood and Community Services;
- Human Resources;
- Law and Public Safety;
- Planning and Economic Development; and
- Such committees as it deems necessary.
The president of the council shall appoint the chairpersons of such standing committees, with the approval of a majority of the City Council. However, the number of committees and the number of members per committee may be set by the City Council. Only members of committees may vote on matters before the committee. The president shall be an ex-officio member of all committees, but shall be a voting member only as provided for any other council person.
Sec. 4-107. Quorum
A majority of city council members represents a quorum
A majority of City Council members serving constitutes a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time and may compel attendance of absent members in the manner and subject to the penalties provided by rule of the City Council.
Sec. 4-108. Voting
All actions of the city council must be accepted by a majority to be adopted
Every council member must vote on all questions except as provided by state law
All votes of council members must be recorded in a log
Except as otherwise provided by this Charter, no action of the City Council shall be effective unless adopted by at least a majority of City Council members present.
Every City Council member present shall vote on all questions, except as provided by state law, a City Council member must promptly disclose any pecuniary interest in a contract which the City Council has the power to approve, and no City Council member may vote upon any matter related to the approval of the contract in which the City Council member has a pecuniary interest.
On all ordnances, and in all other matters on the demand of one (1) or more members of the City Council, the yeas and nays shall be taken and entered in its journal.
Sec. 4-109. Investigations
The City Council may make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of any city agency.
Sec. 4-110. Investigative Powers
City council may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony or require the production of evidence as necessary
The City Council may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence in any matter pending before it or any of its committees. To enforce a subpoena or order for production of evidence or to impose any penalty prescribed for failure to obey a subpoena or order, the City Council shall apply to the appropriate court.
Sec. 4-111. Confirmation Authority
City Council must approve Mayoral appointments of the following department heads:
- Chief of Police
- Fire Commissioner
- Director of Planning and Development
- Human Resources
- Corporation Counsel
- If City Council does not disapprove within 30 days, the appointment is confirmed
Except as otherwise provided in this Charter or as may be required by law, Mayoral appointment of the Chief of Police, Fire Commissioner, Director of Planning and Development, Director of Human Resources and Corporation Counsel, is subject to approval by City Council. However, if the City Council does not disapprove the appointment within thirty (30) days after submission by the Mayor, the appointment is confirmed.
Sec. 4-112. Control of Property
The City may not sell or in any way dispose of property without the approval by resolution of the city council
City council must adopt an ordinance within 180 days providing for the acceptance of gifts of real or personal property to the City
Except as otherwise provided by this Charter, the City may not sell or in any way dispose of any property without the approval by resolution of the City Council.
The City Council shall adopt an ordinance within one-hundred and eighty (180) days after the effective date of this Charter to provide for the acceptance of gifts or real and personal property and services to the City of Detroit.
Sec. 4-113. Prohibition on Interference in Administration
City council can only deal with city officers and employees who work for the mayor solely through the mayor’s office; council is not permitted to give these employees any orders
Except for the purposes of inquiries and investigations, the City Council or its members shall deal with city officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the Mayor solely through the Mayor, and neither City Council or its members shall give orders to such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.
Sec. 4-114. Ordinances and Resolutions in General
A city ordinance must be passed regarding:
Amendment or repeal of any previously adopted ordinance
Providing a penalty or establishing a rule of regulation the may impose a penalty
Laying and collecting of rents, tolls, excised and taxes (excluding property tax – Section 8-209)
In accordance with state law, an ordinance shall be enacted to provide a permanent rule for the conduct of government, while a resolution shall be adopted to express a determination, to direct a particular action, or to approve a singular event. In addition to other acts required by law or by specific provision of this Charter to be done by ordinance, those acts of the City shall be by ordinance which:
- Amend or repeal any language in, or add any language to, the Detroit City Code;
- Establish a prohibition for violation of which a penalty is imposed based upon a finding that a person committed a misdemeanor, civil infraction, or blight violation; or
- Provide for the laying and collecting of rents, tolls, excises and taxes, except as otherwise provided in section 8-209 of this Charter concerning property taxes levied by the budget.
Sec. 4-115. Ordinance Procedure
All ordinances must be proposed in writing
Each new ordinance can contain only one subject
Any ordinance that replaces an existing ordinance must clearly indicate changes
The city clerk must furnish copies of the proposed ordinance to all members of council, the mayor, and publish the proposed ordinance in a daily newspaper together with a notice for public hearing
Public hearings on new ordinances cannot take place sooner than five days after publication of the proposed ordinance
Once adopted, the city clerk will publish notification of the new ordinance in a daily newspaper
- Every proposed ordinance shall be in writing. No ordinance may contain more than one (1) subject, and the ordinance’s title must clearly express this subject. The enacting clause shall be “It is Hereby Ordained by the People of the City of Detroit . . .”
Any ordinance which repeals or amends an existing chapter, article, division, or section of the Detroit City Code shall set out in full the chapter, article, or division, or section to be repealed or amended, and shall clearly indicate language to be omitted and language to be added.
- Upon the filing of any ordinance, the City Clerk shall distribute a copy to each City Council member and to the Mayor, shall file a reasonable number of copies in the Office of the City Clerk and such other public places as the City Council may designate, and shall publish a summary of the proposed ordinance in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the City together with a notice establishing the time and place for a public hearing thereon and for its consideration by the City Council.
The public hearing may not be held earlier than five (5) days after the publication. The public hearing may be held separately or with a regular or special City Council meeting and may be adjourned from time to time. All interested persons shall have an opportunity to be heard.
After the public hearing, the City Council shall vote on the proposed ordinance in accordance with section 4-108 of this Charter.
Sec. 4-116. Emergency Ordinances
If there is a public emergency affecting the life, health, safety, property or public peace, an emergency ordinance can be enacted
Emergency ordinances cannot levy taxes; grant, renew or extend a franchise; or regulate the rate charged by a public utility
Emergency ordinances must follow procedures for regular ordinances
An emergency ordinance is given immediate effect when it receives a 2/3 majority of city council and becomes effective upon publication
Every emergency ordinance is automatically repealed on the 61st day after its enactment
To meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property or the public peace, one (1) or more emergency ordinances may be enacted. However, an emergency ordinance may not levy taxes; grant, renew or extend a franchise; or regulate the rate charged by any public utility for its service.
An emergency ordinance shall be introduced in the form and manner required for ordinances under section 4-115 of this Charter, except that the ordinance shall contain, after the enacting clause, a declaration stating that an emergency exists and describing the emergency in clear and specific terms.
An emergency ordinance may be passed and given immediate effect at the meeting at which the ordinance is introduced, by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of City Council Members present.
An emergency ordinance shall become effective upon publication or at any later date specified therein.
Every emergency ordinance is repealed automatically on the sixty-first (61st) day after its enactment, unless re-enacted as an emergency ordinance.
Sec. 4-117. Procedure for Approval or Veto by Mayor and City Council’s Override of Veto
Every ordinance or resolution of the city council will be presented to the mayor within 4 days of its adoption
The mayor will have 7 days after receipt of an ordinance or resolution to return it to the city clerk with or without approval
If the mayor vetoes an ordinance, (s)he must provide a written explanation of the veto
Vetoes of emergency ordinances must be returned to the city clerk within 24 hours
Any ordinance not returned by the mayor will be deemed enacted
City council can reconsider any ordinance vetoed by the mayor at regular or special meetings
Any ordinance vetoed by the mayor can be reconsidered by the city council at a regular council meeting at least one week after the receipt of the veto
A 2/3 majority in city council will override a mayoral veto of an ordinance
Every ordinance or resolution of the City Council, except quasi-judicial acts of the City Council, including any under section 9-302, appointments by the City Council or action taken under sections 2-107(B) and (C), 4-102, 4-105, 4-108, 4-109, 4-120, 4-121, 7-706, or 12-110 of this Charter, shall be presented by the City Clerk to the Mayor within four (4) business days after adjournment of the meeting at which the ordinance is passed or the resolution is adopted.
Within seven (7) days of its receipt, the Mayor shall return the ordinance or resolution to the City Clerk with or without approval, or with a veto and a written statement explaining the veto. However, with respect to an emergency ordinance, the Mayor shall notify the City Clerk of a veto in any reasonable manner within twenty-four (24) hours after the Mayor’s Office receives written notice from the City Clerk that the emergency ordinance has been passed.
An ordinance approved by the Mayor shall be deemed enacted thereupon. An ordinance returned to the City Clerk neither approved nor vetoed by the Mayor shall be deemed enacted upon receipt by the City Clerk. The Mayor shall return any resolution neither approved nor vetoed to the City Clerk with a written statement explaining the reason that the resolution was neither approved nor vetoed. An ordinance or resolution not returned to the City Clerk within seven (7) days of receipt by the Mayor shall be deemed enacted upon expiration of the seven (7) day period, provided, that, where the Mayor fails to notify the City Clerk of a veto within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt by the Mayor’s Office of notice that an emergency ordinance has been passed, the emergency ordinance shall be deemed enacted upon expiration of the twenty-four (24) hour period.
An ordinance or resolution vetoed by the Mayor can be reconsidered by the City Council only at a regular or special meeting within one (1) week after receipt of the Mayor’s veto. A two-thirds (2/3) majority of City Council Members serving may pass the ordinance or adopt the resolution over the Mayor’s veto.
Sec. 4-118. Publication of Ordinances and Effective Date
An ordinance becomes effective upon publication by the City Clerk
The City Clerk must publish a new ordinance in a daily newspaper as soon as practical after enactment
An ordinance can take immediate effect if approved by a 2/3 vote of City Council
An ordinance that is passes by less than 2/3 of City Council takes effect 30 days after publication
If an ordinance specifies an enactment date, that is the date it will become effective
An ordinance shall become effective only upon publication by the City Clerk. The effective date of an ordinance shall be determined as specified in this section.
As soon as practicable after enactment of any ordinance in accordance with section 4-117, the City Clerk shall have the law published in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the City together with a notice of its enactment, which shall include the effective date. After publication, each ordinance shall be printed in a form for codification within the Detroit City Code.
Except as provided by law, the effective date of the ordinance shall be determined as follows:
- Where the ordinance is passed by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the City Council Members serving, it shall be given immediate effect and become effective upon publication;
- Where the ordinance is passed by less than two-thirds (2/3) majority of the City Council Members serving, it shall become effective no later than thirty (30) days after publication; or
- Where the ordinance specifies a certain date to become effective, it shall become effective in accordance with the date specified therein, subject to the publication requirement in this section.
Sec. 4-119. Ordinances After Enactment and Resolutions After Adoption
The city clerk will certify all ordinances and keep a record of the ordinance on file
Within 10 years of the effective date of the charter, and at least every 10 years thereafter, the city council will codify all ordinances – making those ordinances law
The City code will be published, including the full text of the Michigan Constitution and the Home Rule City Act
Copies of the Detroit City Code will be furnished to all city officers and make available for the public at a price determined by the city council
Every ordinance and resolution that becomes law will be published and made available to the public at a price determined by the city council
- The City Clerk shall authenticate by signature and record all ordinances and resolutions in a properly indexed book kept for that purpose. After enactment, the City Clerk shall cause each ordinance to be printed in a loose-leaf format for distribution to the public prior to codification of the ordinance in the Detroit City Code. At the end of each calendar year, or more frequently if possible, the City Clerk shall cause loose-leaf ordinances to be codified within the Detroit City Code.
- Within ten (10) years after the effective date of this Charter and at least every ten (10) years thereafter, the City Council shall provide for the preparation of a general codification of all City ordinances.
The general codification shall be enacted by ordinance and shall be published promptly in bound or loose-leaf form, together with this Charter and any amendments thereto, the 1963 Michigan Constitution, the Michigan Home Rule City Act and rules promulgated under section 2-111 of this Charter. This compilation shall be designated as the Detroit City Code with the designation preceded by the year that the Code became effective.
A copy of the Code shall be provided to City elective officers, appointees and necessary employees, placed in libraries and public offices for free public reference, and made available for purchase by the public at a reasonable price fixed by the City Council Clerk.
Each ordinance and each amendment to this Charter shall be printed promptly after enactment, and the printed ordinances and Charter amendments shall be distributed or sold to the public at reasonable prices to be fixed by the City Council Clerk.
Sec. 4-120. Council Personnel
The City Council may appoint a staff, exempt from Article 6, Chapter 4 of this Charter.
Sec. 4-121. Special Counsel
City council has the power to obtain the opinion or advice of an outside attorney
Any conflicts between the city council and another branch of government must go through a mediation process (see Sec. 7.5-208) before a lawsuit can be filed
Any attorney that represents City Council must be licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and cannot represent the city as a municipal corporation in any legal proceeding
The City Council may obtain the opinion or advice of an outside law firm or outside attorney in any matter pending before it. Where there exists a conflict of interest between the City Council and another branch of government, the City Council has the authority to retain an outside law firm or outside attorney who shall represent the City Council in legal proceedings, in accordance with section 7.5-208 (Intra-Government Dispute Resolution). The attorney must be licensed to practice law in Michigan and shall not represent the city as a municipal corporation in any legal proceeding.
Sec. 4-122. Approval of Contracts and Disclosure
The City may not purchase or procure property or the services of an independent contractor without the approval of city council by resolution
The City Clerk must post a list of all contracts approved by City Council on the City’s website within 180 days of the effective date of this Charter
All contracts approved by City Council must be filed with the City Clerk and published on the City’s website
Published lists of contracts and contractors must include:
- Name of the contractor;
- Description of goods or services being provided;
- Total dollar amount of the contract;
- Amount and date of all amendments to the contract.
All contracts with the City must require the contractor to provide a Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures for the previous 4 years
Filing a Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures is a yearly obligation for all contractors and their affiliates, subsidiaries, principals. Officers, owners, directors, agents and assigns.
City Council is prohibited from approving any contract that does not meet these disclosure requirements
The City may not purchase or in any way procure property or the services of independent contractors without approval by resolution of the City Council except as provided by ordinance.
Within one hundred eighty (180) days of the effective date of this Charter, the City Clerk shall post on the City’s website a list of all contracts that have been approved by City Council and which are then in effect. The list shall be updated upon the initial approval, amendment or renewal of a contract, as provided herein. The list shall contain: (1) the name of the contractor; (2) a brief description of the goods and/or services being provided; (3) the total dollar amount of the contract; (4) the amount and date of all amendments that result in a change in the contract amount, including change orders; and (5) the purchase order number.
For purposes of conflicts of interest, the City shall require in all of its contractual agreements, including, but not limited to, leases, service and equipment agreements and including contract renewals, that the contractor provide a statement listing all political contributions and expenditures (“Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures”), as defined by the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, MCL 169.201, et seq., made by the contractor, its affiliates, subsidiaries, principals, officers, owners, directors, agents or assigns to elective city officials within the previous four (4) years. Individuals shall also list any contributions or expenditures from their spouses.
The contract shall reflect that filing the Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures shall be a yearly obligation of the contractor for the duration of the contract and shall be filed with all contract renewals and change orders. Each submitted Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures shall be current up to and including the date of its filing.
The contractual agreement shall also state that the contract is not valid unless and until the Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures is provided, which shall be attached as an exhibit to the contract and referenced as such in the contract. City Council is prohibited from approving any contract subject to this requirement, or change order related to such contract, unless it is accompanied by the Statement of Political Contributions and Expenditures from the contractor.