Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How is a piece of legislation introduced to the City Council?
- What type of legislation does the City Council have the power to enact?
- How is legislation identified?
- What is the difference between a Resolution and an Ordinance?
- How do I find out what items are on the agenda at a regular City Council meeting?
- What do the letter prefixes stand for in the Agenda Item Number?
- How can I get a copy of a bill?
- How can I find out what the City Council has voted on?
- How do I find out who is the sponsor of a piece of legislation?
- Can I speak at a City Council Meeting?
- Which Councilor represents me?
- What is the salary of each City Councilor?
- Are the Mayor and City Councilors full-time?
- Does the City Council have a President?
- How does the City Council elect its officers?
- What are the powers and duties of the President and Vice-President?
- What are the duties of the City Council?
- What relationship does the City Council have with the Mayor?
Office of Council Services
- What does the Office of Council Services do?
- What is the role of Council staff in policy development?
- What is the role of Council staff in dealing with Constituents?
- Who is the Director of Council Services?
- How is the Director of Council Services selected?
- What are the powers of the Director of Council Services?
- Is Council Services restricted by rules of confidentiality?
- Is Council Services prohibited from working on political campaigns?
- How do I contact Council Services?
A bill that is going to be considered by the City Council is first published in a Letter of Introduction. In the Letter of Introduction, the bill receives a reference number and is assigned to a committee. The Letter of Introduction is a formality for the Council, it is not read at the Council meeting and no comment or discussion takes place. The Letter of Introduction is the first legislative step towards moving the bill through the legislative process.
There are many different types of legislation that the Council considers. The following is a list of the types of legislation that comes before the Council. In parenthesis is the abbreviation used to identify the legislation.
- Resolution (R) A resolution is a type of legislation that dictates policy for the city. It either mandates or prevents something from occurring. Common situations where resolutions are used are appropriations, preliminary actions on bonds and special assessment districts, adopting budgets and adopting plans.
- Ordinance (O) An ordinance is the only type of legislation that can create or amend local municipal law. Ordinances are always used for police power legislation - matters where it is criminal not to follow the ordinance. Ordinances are also used to adopt taxes, fees and basic City organizational policies and operational matters.
- Memorial (M) A memorial is a type of legislation that issues a statement or a position on a specific topic by the Council. It does not create a new law and is not legally binding in any manner. It merely represents a consensus of opinion by the Councilors.
- Executive Communication (EC) An executive communication is a type of legislation transmitted by the Mayor's office for approval by the Council. Items most often introduced by an Executive Communication include appointments to Boards and Commissions and approval for grants, agreements or contracts by the City.
- Rules Amendment (RA) This form of legislation is used to change or modify the Rules of Procedure of the City Council.
- Other Communication (OC) Legislation that does not conform to any other previously discussed topic is introduced as an Other Communication.
All legislation being considered by the Council is assigned a reference number. Take for example the Abandoned/Inoperable Vehicle bill, O-03-88. The reference number to this bill is actually made up of 3 components. First, the legislation always begins with a letter. In the case of the Abandoned/Inoperable Vehicle bill, the first section of the reference number is the letter "O". This signifies that this bill is an Ordinance. The second portion of the reference number is the last two digits of the year in which the legislation was introduced. In the example cited above the bill was introduced in 2003. Finally, the last series of numbers in a bill is a numerical representation of the number of types of bills introduced for that year. In simple terms, the Abandoned/Inoperable Vehicle bill was the 88th ordinance introduced in 2003. Go to What type of legislation does the City Council have the power to enact? to see a list of prefixes.
The difference between a resolution and an ordinance is that a resolution creates policy for the city. On the other hand, an ordinance is the only type of legislation that can create or amend local municipal law.
Because the agenda for a Council meeting is ever-changing, the actual agenda for a meeting is not final until 5 p.m. on the Friday immediately prior to the Council meeting. At the meeting, copies of the agenda can be found just inside the north entrance to the Council Chambers. Also, you can call 768-4777 to hear a recorded message of the Council meeting agenda or you can access the City Council web site and click on Find Legislation, Meetings, Agendas.
There are a two different ways to obtain a copy of a bill currently being considered by the City Council. All legislation being considered by the Council is available on the internet and can be accessed through Legistar, the City Council's Legislative Information Portal, by clicking Find Legislation, Meetings, Agendas on the City Council web site.
If you do not have access to a computer, you can purchase a copy of the proposed legislation. The cost is 10 cents a page. Please stop by the City Council Office located at One Civic Plaza , on the 9th Floor, Room 9087 to purchase a copy of legislation - phone requests are not able to be processed at this time.
This can be found by using the Search Engine in the City Council's Legislative Information Portal. From the City Council web site select the Find Legislation, Meetings, Agendas link to access Legislative Information Portal . Choose the Legislative Calendar option to view the Council's meeting calendar and then from the calendar on the far right-side (you may need to scroll to the right) select an Available Report marked "Minutes". The resulting display will include which councilors voted for and against each item on the agenda. The calendar can also tell you when an upcoming piece of legislation is scheduled to come before the Council for a vote.
The sponsor of a bill currently being considered by the City Council can be found on the City Council's Legislative Information Portal, which can be accessed by clicking Find Legislation, Meetings, Agendas on the City Council web site. You can go to Legislative File Search, type in the legislation name or key words such as Animal Ordinance (click on Advanced Search for further search help). Then, click on the bill title and on the page that opens, look at Sponsors. If you see "by request" after the name of a Councilor, this means that the Councilor was merely introducing the legislation on behalf of the Administration, by request .
Anyone can appear before the City Council and express their point of view. You may speak during the general public comment segment at the beginning of each meeting, on any topic that is not related to legislation being considered that evening. Or you may address a specific legislative item on the agenda, in which case you will be called to speak when the item comes up for discussion. In either case you must inform the Council Clerk prior to the start of the meeting that you want to address the Council and your name will be placed on a speaker list. If you are speaking on a specific item it is helpful to let the clerk know the agenda item reference number. The Council Clerk is usually seated at the staff table at the front of the audience. Speakers are taken in the order they signed up. The Council President determines the length of time allotted to each speaker at the beginning of each meeting, and due to the frequently long agendas, this is typically just two minutes. To be fair to others waiting to speak a time keeper will ring a bell when the allotted time is up. Therefore, it is important to keep your comments short and plan on making your point as quickly as possible.
You can find out online which councilor represents you.
According to the City Charter, City Councilors receive annual salaries equal to one-tenth of the annual salary received by the Mayor. The Council President shall receive double the annual salary received by other Councilors. Currently, this amount is about $10,608.00 for City Councilors and $21,216.00 for the Council President.
According to the City Charter, the Mayor shall devote full time and attention to the performance of the duties of office and shall hold no other paid public or private employment. On the other hand, City Councilors are only compensated at one-tenth of the salary of the mayor and are only part-time Councilors.
Yes, the Council elects a President and a Vice-President each December of every year.
Election of President . At the first meeting of the City Council in the month of December of each year, the City Council shall elect one of its members to act as President of the City Council. The President shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council until December 1st of the next year or until his or her successor has been selected. In the event that there shall occur a vacancy in the office of President, except one provided for in Article V Section 5.(c) of the City Charter, an election shall be held at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council to fill the vacancy. Election shall require a majority of all Councilors.
Election of Vice-President . At the first meeting of the City Council in the month of December of each year, the City Council shall elect one of its members to act as Vice-President of the City Council. The Vice-President shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council until December 1st of the next year or until his or her successor has been selected. In the event that there shall occur a vacancy in the office of Vice President, an election shall be held at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council to fill the vacancy. Election shall require a majority of all Councilors.
A. The President shall call the Councilors to order, and upon a quorum being present, shall proceed to business.
B. The President shall possess the powers and perform the duties herein described, to wit the President:
- Shall preserve order and decorum and have general direction of the Council/Commission Chambers or any location where the City Council holds its meetings.
- Shall assign bills and have the responsibility for preparation of the agenda and dissemination of the agenda with the public notice for the meeting.
- Shall decide all questions of order, subject to a Councilor's right to appeal to the City Council as a whole.
- Shall speak to points of order in preference to other Councilors.
- May speak, as other Councilors, on general questions from his or her chair.
- Shall vote upon all questions in the same manner as other Councilors.
- Shall announce the result promptly on the completion of every vote.
- Shall appoint all Committees whether standing, joint, or special, subject to the approval of the City Council except where otherwise indicated. Special committees shall consist of five members. The President shall designate the Chairperson of each Committee subject to the approval of the City Council with the exception of Chair of the Committee-of-the-Whole. The Chair shall be selected by a majority of the City Council.
- Shall sign all bills passed by the City Council.
- Shall receive all formal messages and communications from the Mayor and others.
- Shall serve as Chairman of and designate a selection panel of three (3) additional Councilor s to undertake search and preliminary screening of candidates for the position of the Director of Council Services.
- Shall hold over or refer to the appropriate Standing Committee or Committees any bill or executive communication. Upon the request of the bill's sponsor seconded by another Councilor or upon the vote of a majority of Councilors, a referral may be changed or deleted; if referral of a bill is requested at a meeting other than the one at which it is introduced, the President shall make the referral upon the vote of a majority of the Councilors. The President, at his/her option, may refer appeals, appointments or other matters to the appropriate Standing Committee.
- Shall have the authority to sign all decisions of the City Hearing Officer regarding the issuance or transfer of liquor licenses pursuant to Section 13-2-3 ROA 1994.
C. In the absence of the President, upon his or her inability to act, or upon request of the President, the Vice-President shall preside and shall have all the powers and authority of the President.
The City Charter states that the Council shall:
- Be the judge of the election and qualifications of its members;
- Establish and adopt by ordinance or resolution five-year goals and one-year objectives for the city, which goals and objectives shall be reviewed and revised annually by the Council;
- Consult with the Mayor, seek advice from appropriate committees, commissions and boards, and hold one or more public hearings before adopting or revising the goals and objectives of the city;
- Review, approve or amend and approve all budgets of the city and adopt policies, plans, programs and legislation consistent with the goals and objectives established by the Council;
- Preserve a merit system by ordinance;
- Hire the personnel necessary to enable the Council to adequately perform its duties;
- Perform other duties not inconsistent with or as provided in the City Charter; and
- Faithfully execute and comply with all laws, ordinance, regulations and resolutions of the city and all laws for the State of New Mexico and the United States of America which apply to the city.
The Council shall have the power to adopt all ordinances, resolutions or other legislation conducive to the welfare of the people of the city and not inconsistent with the City Charter. The Council shall not perform any executive functions except those functions assigned to the Council by the City Charter.
The City Charter establishes the executive branch of the city government. The Mayor shall control and direct the executive branch. The Mayor is authorized to delegate executive and administrative power within the executive branch. The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer with all executive and administrative powers of the city and the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes.
The Office of Council Services consists of three units of organization - Legislative/Council Support Services, Constituent Services and Community Relations, and Policy Evaluation and Development Services. The office operates under the guidance of the Director of Council Services. The following are some of the primary areas of responsibility for each division.
|Legislative/Council Support Services|
|Constituent Services and Community Relations|
|Policy Evaluation and Development Services|
The role of staff in the development of legislation is not only to analyze and evaluate legislation originating from the Administration, but also to independently recommend and develop policy. Often, this occurs as a result of issues which surface through citizen input to this office or to individual Councilors.
Council staff regularly attends neighborhood and other community meetings and assist Councilors in a variety of areas. Staff is familiar with constituent and neighborhood issues in each Council district and help develop solutions to community concerns. Council Services staff works closely with all City departments, the Office of Community & Neighborhood Coordination as well as neighborhood coalitions and neighborhood associations and are well-equipped to deal with any issue a constituent may have. Council staff communicates with Councilors to keep them apprised and informed of both specific and general issues their constituency has brought to their attention.
The Director of Council Services is Laura Mason.
When a vacancy occurs in the position of Director of Council Services, the selection panel designated by and including the President of the City Council shall initiate a recruitment, screening and interviewing of candidates and shall submit the name of one qualified candidate to the full City Council for final selection. The Director of Council Services shall be selected by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all Councilors.
The Director of Council Services shall, after consultation with the President and the members of the Internal Operations Committee, hire, have charge of, and see that all employees of the City Council perform their respective duties and shall have general control of the City Council Office.
Neither the Director nor any other employee of the Council Services shall reveal to any person outside of the service the content or nature of any request or statement for service made by a Councilor, except with the consent of the Councilor making such request or statement. No member of the City Council staff shall urge or oppose any legislation, nor give to any member of the City Council advice concerning the economic, social or political effect of any bill or proposed bill except upon the request of such member. This, however, does not restrict or preclude City Council staff from providing staff reports of, analyses of, and amendments to, proposed legislation, appropriations and appeals.
Council Services employees shall not engage in any political campaign activity during work hours or using office resources to support or oppose a candidate for public office. During the normal course of business, City Councilors shall not request Council Services employees to perform any activity, the purpose of which is to support or oppose a candidate for public office. Examples of prohibited activities include but are not limited to drafting campaign press releases, conducting opposition research or research on issues primarily related to a campaign, scheduling campaign appearances, drafting campaign-related correspondence and taking campaign-related phone calls except to refer callers to the campaign office. Nothing herein, however, shall be construed as prohibiting and City Council Services staff member from exercising his or her First Amendment right privately to express an opinion or cast a vote. Any member of the Council Services staff who believes that a request by a Councilor is in violation of this policy shall inform the Director of Council Services who shall have an obligation to investigate the complaint and if necessary present the findings to the Council or its appropriate committee.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1293 , 9th Floor - Room 9087, Albuquerque , NM 87103 .
Telephone Number: (505) 768-3100, Fax Number: (505) 768-3227
There is a Councilor site with Councilor and Staff Assistant information if you prefer to contact through email.