What is the city council?
First, I should tell you that state law calls us the “common council”. More people seem to be familiar with the term “city council”, so that’s what I use.
Here in De Pere, the city council is made up of the mayor and 8 elected alderpersons 62.11(1). There are four districts in the city, two alderpersons per district. We each serve a 2-year term, and we serve alternating years. So each April, four of us are up for re-election. Translated further, this means that in your district, one of your two alderpersons is on the ballot every April. Yes, you should be voting every April.
We meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month. If a meeting date falls on election day, we move that meeting to Wednesday.
So what do we do? Well, how about if I start with the definition per state law. Chapter 62 says, in part:
“The council shall have the management and control of the city property, finances, highways, navigable waters, and the public service, and shall have power to act for the government and good order of the city, for its commercial benefit, and for the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and may carry out its powers by license, regulation, suppression, borrowing of money, tax levy, appropriation, fine, imprisonment, confiscation, and other necessary or convenient means.” 62.11(5)
We basically make all major decisions for the city, especially as it related to spending money and passing laws. All such matters are voted on by the 8 alderpersons. If there is a tie, then the mayor casts the deciding vote, otherwise, the mayor does not vote.
DISCLAIMER: This is my own personal opinion on the date that I wrote this. Specific circumstances may warrant a more specific answer. State and municipal law can change at any time.