The Chattanooga City Council is a legislative body. It oversees many of the administration’s decisions and public spending. The council meets every Tuesday to vote on legislation.
The city is divided into nine districts. Each district elects one council member. While all nine districts have about the same number of people living in them, each different has different priorities.
- District 1: Chip Henderson, Chair
- District 2: Jerry Mitchell
- District 3: Ken Smith
- District 4: Larry Grohn
- District 5: Russell Gilbert
- District 6: Carol Berz, Vice-chair
- District 7: Chris Anderson
- District 8: Moses Freeman
- District 9: Yusuf Hakeem
The City Council meets every Tuesday at 1000 Lindsay Street. It conducts most of its business in two different sessions. Council members discuss legislation at a 3:30 p.m. agenda session. They vote on legislation at a 6 p.m. meeting.
The evening council meeting follows an agenda, which lists the order the City Council will consider different legislation.
The City Council generally votes on two types of legislation called ordinances and resolutions.
An ordinance changes City Code, the body of law governing Chattanooga. A typical ordinance must be approved on first and second readings. That means it has to be approved on two different days. Examples include the city’s annual budget ordinance or a zoning ordinance.
A resolution is a formal statement. Resolutions are only approved once. They do not change City Code. A typical resolution authorizes a member of the administration to do something, like enter into a legal agreement.
The City Council makes decisions on ordinances and resolutions by a simple majority vote. Each council member represents one district. Each district effectively has one vote.
Most ordinances and resolutions are routine and pass unanimously with nine votes. A more contentious piece of legislation may pass with five “yes” votes and four “no” votes. It may also fail with less than five “yes” votes.
Officers and Committees
Once a year, the City Council elects one of its members to be the council chair and one to be the vice-chair. The council chair conducts meetings, oversees the agenda and determines the flow of discussion. The vice-chair fills that role when the chair is absent.
The chair also determines which council member is in charge of a committee. Most ordinances and resolutions are discussed in a committee meeting before they are voted on.
Most committees correspond to administrative departments or functions. For example, there is a budget and finance committee that corresponds to Chattanooga’s Finance Department.
There is a time reserved for public comment at the end of council meetings on Tuesday evenings. During this time, Chattanooga residents may address the full council on issues they feel are important and were not addressed in that particular meeting.