A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the body that governs a city, town, municipality, or local government area.
Main article: Local government in Australia
Because of the differences in legislation between the states, the exact definition of a city council varies. However, it is generally only those local government areas which have been specifically granted city status (usually on a basis of population) that are entitled to refer to themselves as cities. The official title is "Corporation of the City of ______" or similar.
Some of the urban areas of Australia are governed mostly by a single entity (see Brisbane and other Queensland cities), while others may be controlled by a multitude of much smaller city councils. Also, some significant urban areas can be under the jurisdiction of otherwise rural local governments. Periodic re-alignments of boundaries attempt to rationalize these situations and adjust the deployment of assets and resources.
Main article: Local government in the Republic of Ireland
The 2001 Local Government Act restyled the five county boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, and Limerick as city councils, with the same status in law as county councils.
The Local Government Reform Act 2014 amalgamated Limerick City and Co. Limerick to form Limerick City and County, and Waterford City and Co. Waterford to form Waterford City and County.
The city councils (Malay: Majlis Bandaraya) and city halls (Malay: Dewan Bandaraya) in Malaysia are as follows.
Main article: Local government in New Zealand
Local councils in New Zealand do vary in structure, but are overseen by the government department Local Government New Zealand. For many decades until the local government reforms of 1989, a borough with more than 20,000 people could be proclaimed a city. The boundaries of councils tended to follow the edge of the built-up area, so little distinction was made between the urban area and the local government area.
New Zealand's local government structural arrangements were significantly reformed by the Local Government Commission in 1989 when approximately 700 councils and special purpose bodies were amalgamated to create 87 new local authorities.
As a result, the term "city" began to take on two meanings.
The word "city" came to be used in a less formal sense to describe major urban areas independent of local body boundaries. This informal usage is jealously guarded. Gisborne, for example, adamantly described itself as the first city in the world to see the new millennium. Gisborne is administered by a district council, but its status as a city is not generally disputed.
Under the current law the minimum population for a new city is 50,000.
Main article: Sangguniang Panlungsod
In the Philippines, all cities have their own city councils, and these are officially called: "Sangguniang Panlungsod" (literally "city council"), although the term "city council" is predominantly used. Municipalities have a similar but separate form of legislature called "Sangguniang Bayan" (literally "municipal council"). The Local Government Code of 1991 established the current local government structure, including city councils. City councils range from 12, in most cities, to 38 members, such as the Manila City Council. Members of city councils are called "councilors".
In the Republic of China, a city council represents a provincial city. Members of the councils are elected through local elections for provincial cities which are held every 4–5 years.
Councils for the provincial cities in Taiwan are Chiayi City Council, Hsinchu City Council, and Keelung City Council.
A city council also exists in the People's Republic of China, these are designated as Municipal People's Congress such as the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress.
Main article: City councils in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, not all cities have city councils, and the status and functions of city councils vary.
A city council may be:
Belfast City Council is now the only city council. Since the local government reforms of 2015 the other four cities form parts of wider districts and do not have their own councils.
A city council is the council of one of four council areas designated a City by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.
The three cities which are not council areas have no city council.
A city council may be:
City councils and town boards generally consist of several (usually somewhere between 5 and 50) elected aldermen or councillors. In the United States, members of city councils are typically called council member, council man, council woman, councilman, or councilwoman, while in Canada they are typically called councillor.
In some cities, the mayor is a voting member of the council who serves as chairman; in others, the mayor is the city's independent chief executive (or strong mayor) with veto power over city council legislation. In larger cities the council may elect other executive positions as well, such as a council president and speaker.
The council generally functions as a parliamentary or presidential style legislative body, proposing bills, holding votes, and passing laws to help govern the city.
The role of the mayor in the council varies depending on whether or not the city uses council–manager government or mayor–council government, and by the nature of the statutory authority given to it by state law, city charter, or municipal ordinance.
There is also a mayor pro tem councilmember. In cities where the council elects the mayor for one year at a time, the mayor pro tem is in line to become the mayor in the next year. In cities where the mayor is elected by the city's voters, the mayor pro tem serves as acting mayor in the absence of the mayor. This position is also known as vice mayor.
In some cities a different name for the municipal legislature is used. In Portland, Oregon, for example, it is known as the City Commission. In San Francisco, it is known as the Board of Supervisors; San Francisco is a consolidated city-county and the California constitution requires each county to have a Board of Supervisors.
Bicameral city councils were common in the United States until the 20th century, when many were abolished for cost cutting purposes and replaced with unicameral legislatures. Typically, bicameral city councils were divided into Common Councils and Boards of Aldermen, to reflect the structure of federal and state legislatures. The city of Everett, Massachusetts was the last to abolish its own bicameral city council (a seven-member Board of Aldermen and an 18-member Common Council) and replace it with an 11-member City Council, doing so with a November 8, 2011 referendum which took effect in 2014.