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The City Council has a number of standing committees to review items of business and hear from interested parties. These committees are:
- Committee of the Whole
- Long Range Planning
- Economic and Community Development
- Policy and Finance
- Public Health and Safety
- Transient Guest Tax
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Elections for even-numbered council district seats will be held the first Tuesday in April, 2015. Elections for odd-numbered council district seats will be held the first Tuesday in April, 2017.
Since its founding, Topeka has operated under four forms of government. From 1857 until 1910, Topeka was governed by the Mayor/Council plan. The Commission form of government was adopted in 1910 and remained in effect until 1985, when the Strong Mayor-City Council-Chief Administrative Officer plan was adopted. In 2005 citizens voted for a Council/City Manager form of government.
The Topeka City Council is composed of nine members elected by district. Each City Council Member is elected to a four-year term of office. There is no limit on the number of terms that Council Members are allowed to serve.
The City Council normally meets on the first three Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers (municipal courtroom), 214 E. 8th. These meetings are cablecast live on the city's governmental access Channel 4 on the Cox Cablevision Network. Replays are shown Wednesday at 1 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.
The City Council, the Mayor, City Manager and administrative staff hold work sessions to present and discuss policy and program items. These sessions are not intended to take binding action on any matter, but rather to share background information and answer questions on items that will soon be appearing before the Council. Although work sessions are open to the public and are cablecast, they shall not be a forum for public comment or debate on any subjects under discussion by the Council.
The City Council does, from time to time, meet in Special Session or continued meetings. These meetings, like all other meetings excluding Executive Session, are open public meetings. Under State law, certain items may be discussed in Executive Session, which are of a legal or personnel nature. These items are defined by state law.
Most ordinances are required to appear twice before the City Council before a vote can be taken. Sometimes ordinances will be referred to a City Council committee for review and hearing after the first reading and before appearing on a later meeting agenda for action.
The City Council conducts the business of the city by voting on ordinances, resolutions, applications, plats, zoning petitions, receiving reports and other items. The City Council elects a Deputy Mayor every year, who presides over Council meetings in the absence of the Mayor, makes committee assignments, and chairs various Council committees. All Councilmembers are members of Topeka/Shawnee County JEDO (Joint Economic Development Organization). Three are voting members.
Serving on the City Council is considered a part-time duty. The majority of Council members have full-time jobs in addition to their City Council duties. The compensation for each City Council member is set by charter ordinance at $10,000 per year. The City Council employs an assistant who helps respond to constituents, conduct research and assist with other official business.