City Government in Rochester
Under our Mayor-Council form of government, Rochester has a directly elected Mayor to administer the municipal government and a City Council to carry out the legislative function. City Council is the nine-member legislative body for the City of Rochester. Five members are elected at-large to represent the entire city, while four are elected to represent the four Council districts: Northeast, Northwest, South, and east. All Council members serve four-year terms. The five at-large representatives are elected at one time and the four district representatives are elected two years later. The full Council generally meets on the third Tuesday of each month and the standing committees meet on the previous Thursday.
One of Council's main duties is the enactment of the City's annual budget. Council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending, whether for operations (e.g., salaries) or capital items such as major equipment purchases, street repairs, or other public improvements. The regulation of land use, including the creation and amendment of zoning laws, is another significant Council responsibility. Council members also respond annually to thousands of constituent requests, filling a crucial oversight role in the delivery of basic City services to the public. In addition to these duties, the Council makes decisions regarding the following:
- Dividing city into election districts
- Approving City real estate transactions
- Issuing municipal bonds
- Approving fees and charges, such as taxicab rates
- Creating Special Assessment Districts
- Adopting Home Rule Messages involving State enabling legislation
- Confirming City Department heads and volunteer members of City Boards and Commissions
- Conducting an annual independent audit of the City's finances
- Investigation of all City departments, with access to all records, compelling testimony, and issuing subpoenas
The Legislative Process in Rochester
While most of the proposed laws which come before Council are referred by the Administration, Council may also initiate legislation itself. Council members will often propose new programs at the suggestion of city residents. After legislation is received from the Mayor OR Legislation is received from Council members, the steps below are followed...
- Council President assigns legislation to a Council Committee:
- Arts and Culture in the Center City, or
- Finance, or
- Neighborhood & Business Development, or
- Jobs, Parks and Public Works, or
- Public Safety, Youth & Recreation
- Committees recommend legislation for adoption, consideration, or rejection by the entire Council.
- Public Hearing may be held on certain pieces of legislation as required by law (e.g., zoning changes).
- Council may approve, amend, reject, or send legislation back to committee.
- Mayor signs bill or vetoes it. If vetoed, item is sent back to Council for possible override.
- City Clerk certifies the legislation and publishes it in the PROCEEDINGS OF COUNCIL.
Contact members of your City Government
The Mayor's Office
Elaine M. Spaull, East District
42 Westminster Road
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 428-7538 (O); (585) 271- 6665(H)
Executive Director, The Center for Youth
BA, George Washington University
JD, SUNY Buffalo; PhD., SUNY Buffalo