The City Council, the policy setting arm of the City, derives its powers from the City charter and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It authorizes public improvements and expenditures, adopts regulations and ordinances, levies taxes, controls the finances and property taxes of the City, and performs many related legislative tasks.
The City Council is elected at-large by the proportional representation electoral process. Upon organization of each new Council, the members elect a Mayor and a Vice-Mayor, with the Mayor serving as the Council's chief legislative officer. The Council organizes into committees which have become increasingly active over the past few years, providing much of the research and legislative analysis on major policy issues before the Council.
The City Council meets on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. from the first Monday in January to and including the last Monday in June, and from the second Monday in September to and including the last Monday in December in the Sullivan Chamber on the second floor of City Hall. Approximately one meeting each month is scheduled as an informal roundtable discussion meeting at which no votes are taken. Business meetings are televised live on 22-CityView, the Municipal Cable Channel, and rebroadcast on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m.
The City Council's regular business meetings are conducted in accordance with the City Council Rules. The City Council meeting agenda is generally posted online by 5:30 p.m. on the Thursdat before the meeting in the City Council Open Meeting Portal. Copies of the City Council meeting agenda are generally available on the Friday before the meeting by 10:30 a.m. Please note that City Hall closes at 12 p.m. on Fridays. A summary of the agenda appears on the City of Cambridge website and is broadcast over the weekend on the 22-CityView.
Members of the public may speak at the public comment section of the scheduled business meeting for up to three minutes on any matter that is being considered by the City Council for action at that meeting. You may sign up to speak by calling the City Council Office at 349-4280 on Mondays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., or by signing up at the meeting between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
To have an item placed on the City Council agenda for action at the meeting, contact a City Councillor to request that he or she submit an order or resolution to the City Clerk to be placed on the agenda.
The agenda is also the way to send a letter to the City Council that will become part of the formal record of City Council proceedings. The letter should be addressed to the City Council, care of the City Clerk. The City Clerk will place all new communications on the agenda for the next regular City Council business meeting. Such letters, if they are about issues that are not otherwise on the Council's business agenda, are not considered part of the action agenda for that meeting, and thus, public comment on these communications is out of order.