City governments provide many services to their citizens. They fight fires, pick up household garbage and repair potholes just to name a few things. They accomplish these tasks by employing individuals to perform specific job functions. It needs people in charge who have the authority to set vision, make big decisions and direct how vision and decisions are to be implemented, no matter what the size of a city government. Citizens do not have the time to study an issue and cast a ballot each time a decision needs to be made, so citizens elect mayors and city council members to represent their interests in city matters. These elected people are charged to act in accordance with the authority provided to their offices. he form dictates which elected and appointed offices must be filled and how the individuals holding those offices interact with one another. The two most common forms of city government are the council manager and strong mayor systems. The city council members are elected by the citizens in the council-manager form of government. The members can be elected by districts, at large or in some combination of the two.

 

Who is in charge in city government

Other than some ceremonial duties, the mayor has little or no more power than any other council member but the mayor presides over the city council.  The city council hires a city manager o make the day-to-day decisions and direct city staff. The manager advises the council on big decisions, but those decisions are ultimately made by the council. Local voters hold council members accountable for those decisions.  The city council still makes the big decision; however, the mayor is a much more influential figure in the strong mayor form of government. City manager positions do not exist in strong mayor cities. Like the city manager in the council-manager system, the mayor makes day-to-day decisions and oversees city staff. But the mayor in a strong mayor system has more power than an individual council member unlike the mayor in the council-manager system. The mayor has veto power over council decisions in some cities. While the mayor focuses on politics and external affairs, a mayor may choose to appoint a deputy mayor to handle internal issues. The deputy mayor functions much like a city manager in case he mayor aligns all or most city staff under the deputy mayor. Voters are ultimately in charge in either form of government. Elected and appointed officials must be cognizant of the city’s political environment. Failing to accurately predict the political fallout from decisions can bring a quick end to an elected official’s time in office or a city manager’s tenure in a particular city. Department heads feel the political implications of a city’s form of government. These directors either report to the city manager in the council-manager system or the mayor in the strong mayor system. They are public administrators by profession and therefore tend to have a better understanding of operational issues and can better advise their direct reports on handling operational problems while managers keep politics in mind.