A new tool allows users to compare the city councils of 15 major American cities -- including the nation's 10 largest cities  -- on a variety of factors, such as councilmembers' tenure, salary and expenditures.

The data is useful because councils vary wildly in their size and operations, even among large cities.

The Pew Charitable Trusts released the interactive tool for comparing councils. It's accompanied by a short report that further compares city councils.

Among the interesting tidbits in the report:

  • Los Angeles has the highest average salary for council members. Average city council salaries exceed $178,000 a piece.
  • Philadelphia's city council members are the longest-serving. They've served an average of 15.5 years each on the board.
  • The Detroit city council spends about 1 percent of the city budget on council operations, which is a higher percentage than any other city in the study.
  • African-Americans are represented on city councils proportionally to their city populations, but Hispanics and Asians are not. Phoenix, for example, is 43 percent Hispanic, but just one of nine council seats is held by a Hispanic resident.