The Common Council of Evansville (often referred to as the City Council) is the legislative and fiscal body for city government. The Council’s nine members are made up of one representative from each of the City’s six Council districts and three at-large members. View a map of the six wards here or visit our Ward & Neighborhood Lookup page to search by address. Members are elected officials who serve for four-year terms.
As the legislative body, the Council has the exclusive responsibility of passing or changing local laws (known as ordinances), resolutions, orders, and motions for the City’s government. As the fiscal body, the Council has the authority to levy certain taxes and it has the sole responsibility of adopting a City budget each year. The Council also appoints members to certain boards and commissions that serve the community in various areas.
Indiana has what is called a “strong mayor” system, so the mayor has most of the executive and administrative power over the city’s daily operations. The mayor appoints or removes department heads and has veto power over ordinances passed by the Council. Nevertheless, the Council has the ultimate authority for funding and all money spent on behalf of City taxpayers.
During budget season – which typically occurs in the fall – the mayor will propose to Council a detailed budget for all City departments, taking into account revenue sources and restrictions on how money from each revenue source can be used. By state law, Council can cut any of the mayor’s spending proposals, but generally Council cannot add any spending to the budget. State law also requires that the budget be balanced. Therefore, the City will receive estimates of tax revenue from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) and all spending must stay within the DLGF’s projected revenue.
After a budget has passed, City departments will frequently find the need to reallocate funds for different uses, either within the same department or to different departments. These transfers and appropriations require Council approval.
While there is no law requiring them to do so, Council created committees to address ordinances depending on the subject matter (such as finance, public works, and the City administration). While much of the discussion and work of Council is done in committees, everything the Council does must still be approved in a regular Council meeting.
All ordinances and resolutions must be introduced by Council members. Citizens can take part by approaching a Council member with an idea or proposal for an ordinance or resolution. These proposals are introduced into the Council and are assigned to the appropriate committee for consideration. Committees hold a public hearing to receive citizen input, then decide to table the ordinance or bring it before the entire Council. When an ordinance is passed by the Council, it is then sent to the Mayor for signature or veto. The Council may override a veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
One frequent – and sometimes controversial – request before Council concerns zoning. The City is divided into districts or zones with each having their own regulations and rules for how the land may be used. Over time, residents and City officials find the need to change some districts, or rezone them, which requires Council approval. Rezoning requests first appear before the Area Plan Commission and receive a recommendation for approval or denial. This recommendation is then passed on to Council, which has the final authority over rezoning requests.
Regular Council meetings typically occur on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Civic Center. However, Council committee meeting times vary and typically occur between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Check the agenda prior to each meeting to ensure you have the correct time and date.
All business before the Council must be filed with the Office of the City Clerk. The Clerk is the keeper of the record for the Council and maintains the City Code of Ordinances. To contact the Common Council or the City Clerk, please call the City Clerk's office at (812) 436-4992.