The Metropolitan Council is the legislative body of the consolidated city-county government of Nashville, Tennessee and Davidson County.
The Council has 40 members, 35 of which are district council representatives, and five of which are council members at-large. If a member resigns or dies before serving a full four-year term, the member's seat remains vacant until the next election. At-large council members are elected by the entirety of the area the metropolitan government encompasses. One national survey of city councils lists Nashville's as the third largest, behind Chicago and New York City. [The Historic Metro Courthouse, 1 Public Square, is where the Council meets.
Under the Metropolitan Charter, members must be over the age of 25 and have lived within Davidson County for a year at the beginning of their terms. Members must also have lived in the district they represent for six months, and they must continue to reside in that district for the duration of their terms. In 2001, the Nashville City Paper reported that city council members received $6,900 annually, although a recently passed state law would allow a pay raise beginning in 2003. By 2005, according to The Tennessean, members were being paid an annual salary of $15,000. The members elected by districts represent 15,000 to 17,000 residents each, and all Metro Council members serve part-time.
Two-thirds of the Metropolitan Council are required to constitute a quorum before the business of the council can be conducted. The council holds regular meetings each first and third Tuesday of each month, but may also have adjourned meetings of regular meetings on week day or hour it may fix. In addition, with 48 hours' written notice, a special meeting may be called by the mayor or the vice mayor. It may also be requested by the majority of the council, which would require 21 votes in favor of the meeting. Meetings are broadcast live on Metro 3 and are archived on the Nashville government website.
The mayor may veto resolutions and ordinances passed by the Metropolitan Council, but the veto can be overridden with a two-thirds majority of the Council. With three-fourths of the entire council in favor, and not subject to veto, investigations may be conducted by the whole council or its committees.
The popularly elected vice mayor is the President of the Metropolitan Council and serves as its presiding officer, but is not a member of the Metro Council and does not vote except to break ties. Members elect a president pro tempore to serve in the absence of the Vice Mayor, and a deputy president pro tempore once the president pro tempore becomes presiding officer due to the Vice Mayor's death or resignation.
Members of the Metro Council that act as presiding officer during the Vice Mayor's absence retain their right to vote on all resolutions and ordinances. Presidents of the Metropolitan Council receive the same annual salary as the Vice Mayor, $4,200. Diane Neighbors is the incumbent vice mayor.
In 2005, mayor Bill Purcell called for cutting the number of legislators in the council down to 20 in a proposal in which fifteen seats would be elected by districts and five seats would remain at-large. In 2006 the Metro Charter Review Commission scheduled a public hearing on the council's size. In a poll by The Tennessean, 21 councillors favored keeping the council as it is, and nine favored a reduction in the size of the council.
Dissidents said that if the size of the council were to be reduced, being elected could become a matter of who can raise the most money, and special interests may get involved. Other concerns voiced included council members not being able to get in contact with their constituents, the council becoming less ethnically diverse, and council membership changing from a part-time to a full-time job. Councilwoman Amanda McClendon said a reduction in size may make it easier to pass legislation.
Famous quotes containing the words metropolitan and/or council:
“In metropolitan cases, the love of the most single-eyed lover, almost invariably, is nothing more than the ultimate settling of innumerable wandering glances upon some one specific object.”
—Herman Melville (18191891)
“There by some wrinkled stones round a leafless tree
With beards askew, their eyes dull and wild
Twelve ragged men, the council of charity
Wandering the face of the earth a fatherless child....”
—Allen Tate (18991979)