Who decides what?

This page describes the roles of the decision-making bodies of the City in decision-making.

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The City Council is the highest decision-making body of Helsinki

Each Finnish municipality has a municipal council, which is its highest decision-making body. In Helsinki, this body is referred to as the City Council. The City Council is elected through local elections every four years. It oversees the City’s operations and finances. The City Council decides what governing bodies the municipality has, who their members are, and how the powers and responsibilities are divided between the elected officials and municipal office holders.

Besides deciding on the administrative regulations, the City Council is also responsible for setting long-term objectives for the City of Helsinki’s operations and finances by preparing the City Strategy. Additionally, the City Council decides on the annual City budget, through which it allocates resources to different areas of the City’s operations. The City Council selects the members of Helsinki’s committees and sub-committees and the leaders with the highest authority. It also makes the most significant decisions on principles and finances in Helsinki.

Helsinki’s other decision-makers and decision-making bodies include the Mayor, Deputy Mayors, numerous other municipal office holders and other bodies formed by elected officials.

Individual office holders generally make decisions on matters related to the personnel, purchasing services, purchases by the City divisions and organising operations. When carrying out official duties required by law, individual office holders may also decide on matters concerning an individual party, such as matters related to social services or education. Official records are kept of some of the decisions made by Helsinki’s office holders. Other decisions are made in writing or through various information systems. The official records of decisions made by Helsinki’s office holders can be found on the Helsinki website (link to the official decisions summary page).

The grounds for decision-making by public administrations(Link leads to external service) are laid down in the Constitution of Finland. The self-government of municipalities is provided for in the Constitution of Finland , and municipal activities are provided for in the Finnish Local Government Act(Link leads to external service). The municipal decision-making procedure is primarily provided for in the Local Government Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Additionally, the legislation on different branches of government includes numerous provisions on procedures.

The City Board manages the City’s operations

The City Board operates under the City Council, managing the City’s operations, administration and finances. The City Board is also responsible for preparing the City Council’s decisions, representing Helsinki in various contexts and exercising general powers in matters not provided for and regulated by law. The City Board is in charge of coordinating the entire City’s operations. The City Board is chaired by the Mayor of Helsinki. The Deputy Mayors are members of the City Board, and the City Council appoints the rest of the members.

In Helsinki, the City Board also has two sub-committees. The City Group Sub-committee monitors the operations of the City of Helsinki’s subsidiary communities and subsidiary companies. The Economic Development Sub-committee oversees the City’s economic development, competitiveness, immigration and employment policies. The members of these two sub-committees are appointed by the City Council.

Division committees oversee the City divisions’ operations

The City of Helsinki organisation is divided into the Central Administration and four divisions: Education Division, Urban Environment Division, Culture and Leisure Division, and Social Services ,Health Care and Rescue Division.

Each of the four divisions has its own division committee and one to three sub-committees that operate under the division committee, tasked with specified responsibilities. Each division committee is chaired by the Deputy Mayor of the division in question. The committees are responsible for tasks such as overseeing and monitoring the division’s operations and deciding the principles concerning organising and implementing services. Unlike the divisions, the Central Administration does not have a committee. It operates directly under the City Board. The members of the division committees and their sub-committees are appointed by the City Council.

Other committees and boards

The Audit Committee organises audits and assessments of the City’s administration and finances. Unlike Helsinki’s other governing bodies, the Audit Committee does not operate under the City Board. In order to ensure the independence of the auditing and assessment activities, the Audit Committee is responsible for its operations and reports on them directly to the City Council. The members of the Audit Committee are appointed by the City Council.

The Central Municipal Election Board is responsible for the duties set out for municipalities in the Finnish Election Act. During municipal elections, the Central Municipal Election Board is responsible for the election arrangements at polling stations. The Board has fewer responsibilities during national elections, but the practical election arrangements also fall under its responsibility during national elections. The City Council establishes the Central Municipal Election Board. The Council appoints the members of the Board for a four-year period of office. Where possible, the aim is for these members to represent the voter groups that participated in the previous municipal election held in Helsinki.

The Urban Environment Division also includes the Board of Helsinki City Transport, which oversees the operations of Helsinki City Transport (HKL), one of Helsinki’s public enterprises. The City Board appoints the members of this Board.

The boards of four other public enterprises operate within the Central Administration, namely the Board of Service Centre Helsinki, Board of Construction Services (Stara), Board of Occupational Health Helsinki, and Board of Financial Management Helsinki (Talpa). The City Board appoints the members of these public enterprise boards. The Central Administration’s public enterprises are primarily responsible for providing internal support within the City organisation.

Mayor and Deputy Mayors

In Helsinki, the City’s administration, financial management and other operations are led by the Mayor of Helsinki under the City Board. The City Council appoints the Mayor for a four-year period from among the City Councillors and Deputy Councillors. The Mayor is a full-time elected official and the chairperson of the City Board and its Economic Development Sub-committee.

Helsinki also has four full-time Deputy Mayors, who each work in their own City division. Each of the Deputy Mayors monitors the operations of their own division and chairs its division committee. The Deputy Mayors are also appointed by the City Council for its period of office from among the City Councillors and Deputy Councillors.