According to the official New York City Council website, the role of the NYC city council is as follows:
"The New York City Council is the law-making body of the City of New York. It is comprised of 51 members from 51 different Council Districts throughout the five boroughs. The Council monitors the operation and performance of city agencies, makes land use decisions and has sole responsibility for approving the city's budget. It also legislates on a wide range of other subjects. The Council is an equal partner with the Mayor in the governing of New York City."
The Website also details, the role of the city council when it comes to the city budget, as follows: "The Council establishes priorities, allocates resources and sets the policy agenda for the year. It is the single most important municipal document that affects the lives of New Yorkers. While the mayor proposes the city's spending priorities for the upcoming year, the Council has final budget approval powers. During the budget process, the Council may change budget priorities and add special 'terms and conditions' requiring city agencies to report to the Council on how specific monies are being spent throughout the year."
The City Council also has a lot of power when it comes to land use. Http://council.nyc.gov states that: "Under the 1990 Charter revision, the Council acquired the power to review land use issues and approve zoning changes, housing and urban renewal plans, community development plans and the disposition of city-owned property. This power gives the Council the most significant voice in the growth and development of our city."
The City Council also has the obligation to regulate city agencies to make sure that they are running properly, following the rules, and adhering to the budget.
Also, importantly: "As the legislative body, the Council makes and passes the laws governing the city. The Council has passed landmark legislation on designated smoking areas in public places, campaign finance, anti-apartheid, solid-waste recycling and restrictions on assault weapons. Legislation pending in the Council is called an Introduction, often abbreviated to "Intro" or "Int", and is assigned a number. When an Introduction is signed by the Mayor it becomes a Local Law and is assigned a new number."
By the above stated descriptions of the City Council's responsibilities and powers, you can see how important it is for citizens to constantly have their voices in the ears of council members.
Here is how the city council operates as a committee (according to its website):
"Most of the Council's legislative work is done in committee. It is there that proposed legislation is initially debated and the members of other government branches and the public are given a chance to comment.
Each Council Member serves on at least three of the Council's standing committees, sub- and select committees and panels. The standing committees must meet at least once a month unless the Charter mandates otherwise. Committee assignments are made by the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections and voted on by the entire Council.
Most Council hearings are held in the Council Chambers or the adjoining Committee Room in City Hall [NYC City Hall Pictured Above]. Hearings are also held in the Hearing Room on the 16th Floor of 250 Broadway [FOR THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL- CHECK THE CITY HALL ADDRESS FOR YOUR CITY ON GOOGLE]. Meetings of the entire Council, referred to as Stated Meetings, are held twice a month at City Hall. A weekly schedule of Council hearings is available in the Council's Office of Communications in City Hall."