How the City Commission Works

Overview

The City Commission represents the people of Grand Rapids. Voters elect their representatives:

  • Two City Commissioners for each of the three wards, elected by the voters in each ward
  • The Mayor, elected by all Grand Rapids voters

Want to know who represents you? Check out the Elected Officials page to find out who's on the Commission right now. Not sure which City ward you live in? Use My Neighborhood to lookup your elected officials using your address.

Appointments

As a group, the City Commission appoints and oversees the work of several officials:

  • City Manager
  • City Attorney
  • City Clerk
  • City Treasurer

Want to get to know our current appointed officials? We keep an up-to-date listing of Appointed Officials on our website.

Oversight and Approvals

The Commission considers and acts upon:

  • Proposed City ordinances (laws)
  • The City budget
  • Most contracts and agreements involving the City
  • City policies that impact Citizens
  • Appointments to various board and commissions
  • Other matters

Meetings

The City Commission meets on Tuesdays, usually every other week. We publish the regular meeting schedule for each year before January 1. When the Commission calls special meetings, we'll post a public notice to let you know. This happens when the Commission considers time-sensitive business.

Want to know more about the rules for these meetings? Check out the City Commission's Standing Rules here.(PDF, 345KB)

Meeting Schedule

Looking for a full meeting schedule? We keep a master calendar on our Legislative Management website.

Meeting Calendar

Closed Sessions

Most meetings are open to the public. Sometimes the City Commission meets in closed session to discuss confidential items. This includes personnel matters or litigation. Before the Commission makes any decisions they must return to open session.

Standing Committees

The Commissioners meet as several standing committees the morning of regular meeting days. These committees meet between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm.

The committees receive reports and presentations from City staff members and partner organizations. They also consider action items, known as resolutions. Resolutions approved unanimously become recommendations. The Commission votes on recommendations in the regular session meeting at 7:00 pm the same day.

The Commission approves the committees' resolutions with a vote on the consent agenda. This helps the Commission conduct a large amount of business efficiently. Routing most agenda items through committees in the morning saves time. This way the Commission can approve these items with a single vote in the evening.

Regular Session

The regular session starts at 7:00 pm and includes at least two opportunities for public comment. The public can comment on listed agenda items near the beginning of the meeting. The public can make general comments on any topic near the end of the meeting. Often the agenda also includes public hearings, when the public may comment on:

  • Proposed ordinance changes
  • Requested business or development incentives
  • Other matters

Each individual has up to 3 minutes to comment and may only speak once per topic.

Extended Approval Process

Some items take more than one meeting to approve:

  • City ordinances
  • Items with an extended approval process mandated by State law or City policy

Usually, the approval process for an ordinance involves three meetings. More routine or standard ordinances may be approved in fewer meetings.

First Meeting

A Standing Committee introduces the ordinance in a morning meeting. The committee then approves a resolution to set a public hearing date.

Second Meeting

The City presents a brief summary of the ordinance. The public comments during the City Commission regular session meeting at 7:00 pm.

Third Meeting

The third meeting takes place during the 7:00 pm City Commission regular session. The Commission decides whether to approve the ordinance. This happens during the ordinances to be adopted section of the meeting.

Ordinances take effect 30 days after the Commission approves them. The Commission can pass a separate motion to give an ordinance immediate effect. At least two-thirds of the Commissioners must approve the immediate effect motion. amendments to the budget ordinance are often given immediate effect.