By NLC Member Relations
As the annual NLC governance process ramps up, it's a good time to spotlight the member councils as an accessible way to get involved in the organization and make an impact.
Currently, there are four member councils - Small Cities Council, Large Cities Council, First Tier Suburbs Council and University Communities Council - with a fifth, the Military Communities Council, to be formally added beginning January 2013. NLC's member councils serve as a vehicle for similar types of cities to come together in smaller group within the broader NLC organization to address unique challenges and needs.
In general, each of the member councils meets at the Congress of Cities and Exposition in the fall and the Congressional City Conference in the spring. Each council has a chair and vice chair or two, and several are led by a steering committee. Most of the councils are also active outside of the conferences through their myNLC groups online and occasional conference calls when important issues arise of interest to the members. While the councils don't create NLC policy - this is handled through the Policy Committees and voted on by the full membership - member councils can draft their own positions and submit them to Policy Committees for consideration. In this way, they are able to have a collective voice on specific topics within the organization.
Here is some general information about each council, and their areas of focus:
Small Cities Council
NLC's Small Cities Council was created to ensure that the interests and concerns of small communities are part of NLC's overall policies and programs. Its membership is made up of elected officials from municipalities with populations of 50,000 or less. The Council is led by a steering committee that holds an annual summer meeting in addition to the meetings held during the two annual conferences to discuss common issues and successes while establishing future items of interest of the full council. The full Small Cities Council meets during the annual conferences. Recently addressed policy issues include local government strategies for maximizing the economic development potential of small businesses; addressing federal policy trends impacting local community development efforts, specifically decreases in federal program support; and the role that natural gas will have on the nation's energy future, as well as the impact of hydraulic fracturing on local drinking water resources, wastewater, and air emissions.
Large Cities Council
The Large Cities Council provides a place where large-community leaders can gather to share ideas and help one another solve problems. For the purposes of the council, a large city is one with population 200,000 or above, or the central city in a particular region. Recent discussions have focused around the ongoing work at the federal level to rewrite federal transportation programs, the proper setting of utility rates and the effect on large communities, and the effective use of human resources, one of the biggest cost drivers for large communities. The council also receives regular legislative updates from the NLC Federal Relations staff. All local elected officials of a large city are welcome to attend the in person gatherings whether a member of the council or not.
First Tier Suburbs Council
The First Tier Suburbs Council strives to be recognized as the advocate for first tier suburbs by facilitating discussion on a national level. The council identifies and shares innovations and successful approaches to governance and service delivery to address the unique needs of first tier suburbs. Membership of the First Tier Suburbs Council is open to any local elected official representing an NLC member city that serves communities outside central cities.
University Communities Council
The University Communities Council shares issues and opportunities which are unique to university communities, especially where a university is a dominant factor in the community. Issues of importance to university communities are economic development, community arts and athletics, noise and other nuisances, housing and neighborhood concerns and partnerships between the university and the city or town. In addition, the UCC supports the legislative priorities that are set by the NLC each year.
Military Communities Council
Comprised of representatives from NLC member municipalities which host or are in close proximity to a military installation, the Military Communities Council is joining the others as an official member council in January 2013 after serving as a peer networking group for two years. Issues of focus have so far included establishing a military-community covenant, transportation and infrastructure issues that arise due to a nearby military installation, best practices for city leaders to work successfully with local military leadership, and many veteran and military family issues around providing jobs, housing, education and healthcare.
Details: More information on each of the member councils can be found on the Committees and Councils page. Applications to participate as a member on any of the councils are due November 16. Appointments will be made by incoming NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ.