Frequently Asked Questions

What does the City Council do?

According to the city code:

"The legislative powers of the City are exclusively vested in the Council. The Council has the power to conduct investigations concerning any subject on which it may legislate, or the operation of a department, board or commission engaged in administrative affairs of the City."

In practice, this means we:

  • make recommendations to the State Liquor Commission regarding the approval of liquor licenses for bars and restaurants
  • approve appointments to local Commissions and Boards
  • oversee land use and zoning changes
  • approve redevelopment agreements and authorize the issuance of financing bonds
  • develop and pass the City budget
  • create and revise the city code with the power to put certain things to a vote of the people - e.g. public safety ballot initiative
  • set fees, rates, and levy taxes
  • authorize the Mayor to execute contracts (e.g. with the State to accept federal funding for road construction and repair)
  • vote on claims made against the city
  • provide a forum for citizens to speak on issues on our Agenda or of importance to them
Who are my Council Representatives and what District do I live in?

See Council members and the District Map

The City Council is divided into four district seats, each covering a quarter/one quadrant of the city, and three at-large seats, which represent the entire city. This means that all citizens are represented by a majority of City Council - as they have three at-large representatives and one district representative for a total of four representatives out of the seven.

How are Council members chosen?

At-large (city-wide) Ccouncil members are elected in a non-partisan, city-wide May election during odd years, every four years (2005, 2009, 2013). District Ccouncil members are elected by their district's voters every four years in a non-partisan May election during the alternate odd years (2007, 2011, 2015).

How do I contact my representatives?

You may email any representatives using our email form, call the Council office at 402-441-7515, or drop by the offices at the County-City Building, 555 South 10 Street, Room 111 - a receptionist is available from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

When and where does the City Council meet?

The City Council meets in the County-City Building each Monday at 3 p.m. with two exceptions: One, meetings are held at 5:30 p.m. on the last Monday of each month to offer one nighttime meeting per month for the convenience of the public; the other is when a holiday falls on a Monday - there is no meeting held that week.

The Council meets at the County-City Building, 555 South 10 Street, Rm 112 (Council Chambers).

Are Council meetings televised or streamed on the internet?

The Council's meetings are televised live on LNKTV City, Lincoln's Government Television:

Can the public take part in the Council meetings?

Yes. Council meetings are open to the public. Anyone wishing to bring a matter before Council may do so by appearing at the meeting or by correspondence. Citizens may appear before Council to speak on items scheduled for public hearings. Time is allotted at the end of the meetings held on the 2nd and last Mondays of each month for citizens to bring other matters to the attention of Council.

How do Council meetings work?

The Council Chairperson directs the Clerk to call (read) the items scheduled for public hearing.

Consent Agenda
Has Public Hearing; consists of routine items that typically are not controversial: Appointment Resolutions, Reports from City Officers, Setting the Hearing, Date on Liquor License Applications, etc. Voting takes place immediately following public comment.
Public Hearing - Liquor Resolutions
Any establishment wishing to serve alcohol applies for a liquor license with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. The applications are forwarded on to our office for local approval. Voting takes place immediately following public comment.
Public Hearing - Ordinances 2nd Reading
This is the time for public comment. 3rd Reading/Action will take place the following week.
Public Hearing - Resolutions
This is the final time they will appear on the Agenda. This is the time for public comment. During the voting session, these items will be voted upon.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the Council goes into the Voting Session beginning with the Consent Agenda.

How does legislation get on the Council Agenda?
  1. Departments send the Request Form, Fact Sheet and support information to the City Clerk on Friday, 10 days' prior to the requested Introduction date.
  2. The Clerk assigns the Bill number.
  3. Directors of various city departments and agencies request Council Agenda items. [13-__ Indicates an Ordinance. 13R-__ Indicates a Resolution]
  4. Council members can also bring forth legislation on behalf of constituents. Department Directors and Council members work with the City Attorney to draft the requested ordinance or resolution.
  5. Once a Council requested item is ready for the agenda, the council secretary prepares the Request Form and Fact Sheet. The requesting Council member signs the request form prior to submitting to the Clerk.
How is legislation passed?
  • Ordinances have 3 Readings on 3 consecutive Mondays: 1st Reading is basically public notice, the 2nd Reading is when it has Public Hearing, and the 3rd Reading is when Council takes Action (votes).
  • Resolutions have 2 listings on the agenda: 1st listing for public notice; 2nd listing is when it has Public Hearing & Action. If an Ordinance and Resolution are related, they are listed together on the Agenda & action on the Resolution occurs at the same time as action upon the Ordinance.
How does the balance of power between the Mayor and the City Council function?

The Council has the ability to pass ordinances and resolutions. The Mayor can veto any of these. The Council can override a mayoral veto if 5 out of the 7 members vote to do so.