The city council is composed of a common council (five members from each ward, elected for two years) and of a board of aldermen (three members from each ward to be elected for four years).
It provided for municipal elections in January; for the election of a mayor for four years; for his recall at the end of two years if a majority of the registered voters so vote in the state election in November in the second year of his term; for the summary removal for cause by the mayor of any department head or other of his appointees; for a city council of one chamber of nine members, elected at large each for three years; for nomination by petition; for a permanent finance commission appointed by the governor; for the confirmation of the mayor's appointments by the state civil service commission; for the mayor's preparation of the annual budget (in which items may be reduced but not increased by the council), and for his absolute veto of appropriations except for school use.
The Rathaus (town hall) of red and black glazed brick, dating from various epochs during the middle ages, is famous for its staircase, the vaulted wine cellar of the city council beneath and magnificent wood carving.
It was anciently surrounded with a wall, an order for the reparation of which is found so late as 1748 in the city council books (which date from 1610).
The city council appoints an attorney for the corporation, a city engineer, a city clerk, a police justice, a board of fire commissioners and a board of police commissioners, one from each ward, who have control of the fire and police departments, respectively, and a number of other officers.
From the exchange to the city council chamber, thence to the aldermanic court, and eventually to the mayoralty itself, were inevitable stages of an emancipation to which their large interests in the city and their high character entitled them.