What is our local form of Government?
On November 4, 1986, by Special Election the following plan of government was approved: Commission-Manager Form. The Commission-Manager form consists of an elected Commission and a Manager appointed by the Commission, who shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the local government. The Manager shall be responsible to the Commission for the administration of all local government affairs in his charge by law, ordinance or resolution.
What are the chief features of the Commission-Manager Government?
A small number of Commissioners are elected - on a non-partisan ballot, and generally at large -- to serve as the City's governing body. This body determines municipal policies, adopts ordinances, votes appropriations, and appoints the chief administrative officer, the City Manager. The City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day administration of city operations, advises the City Commission on public policy; and holds office at the pleasure of the Commission.
There is a distinction between the functions of POLICY-MAKING (representation) and POLICY EXECUTION (administration), the former being the duty of the commission, the latter the duty of the Manager. It is inappropriate management for a Commissioner to tell an employee, what he/she wants to be accomplished. Because the City Manager serves the governing body as a whole, the direction must be given by the majority will of the governing body. Since the governing body is responsible to the public for actions of the City Manager, the success of this form of government depends to a very large extent on the maintenance of mutual understanding and a high degree of cooperation between the Manager and Commission.
To whom are the City Manager and other City Employees responsible?
The City Manager is responsible to the Commission, which may terminate their service at any time. All department heads and other City employees, including City Attorney, are responsible to the City Manager. The Fire Chief is responsible to the City Manager, but the appointment of the Fire Chief is subject to the City Commission approval. The City Judge is an elected official and the judicial branch of government is separate from the Executive or Legislative branches but subject to the appropriation authority of the legislative body.
How and to what extent does the Manager participate in policy determination?
The City Manager is expected to prepare and submit the annual budget to the City Commission. In addition to supplying the information requested by the body, the City Manager may make recommendations on any matter which requires Commission action. The Commission may adopt or modify these recommendations, and whatever action they take is binding on the City Manager.
What should the relationship between the Commission and Manager be?
The Manager is responsible to the Commission for the proper conduct of all city activities under the direction of the office, providing information and advice, and making recommendations.
The City Manager is the Commission’s technical advisor and consultant, but only the Commission can make laws and establish policies. Thus, the burden for political leadership falls squarely on the Commission.
City Managers cannot and must not permit themselves to assume responsibilities that rest exclusively in the City Commission. The City Manager can and should outline desirable community goals, but not make an issue of the proposals. If the Commission cannot be convinced of the logic of the plans, the Manager will devise another plan or simply follow the Commission’s instructions. But once the Commission has acted, the Manager may assume the responsibility as an administrative duty of acquainting the public with the policy which has been adopted.
What are the arguments used for adoption or continuation of the City Manager plan?
a. A single, small governing body is made collectively responsible to the voters for all aspects of City government.
b. The City Manager's government insures a greater degree of separation between "politics" and administration, than is found in other forms of government, at the same time increasing the control of the elected governing body over all aspects of municipal affairs.
c. As technical expertise is not required of them, it is possible to have more representative Commission; Commission positions are more attractive to qualified citizens as they do not require full-time attention.
d. It appears that generally this form of government has increased the prestige of the Commission and improved the status of expert administration in municipal government.
e. It is easy to fix responsibility for municipal operations when one person coordinates the city administration.
f. A business-like attitude is brought to the job of running a City and more coordination exists in government than was previously the case.
g. The plan, as far as can be determined, has brought about a much more efficient administration than was found under the old systems of municipal government.
h. The City Manager plan increases attention to local problems and diminishes partisanship based on traditional political divisions.
i. The Manager plan in many cases raises the morale of municipal employees and gives them a sense of security in their jobs than is present under other forms of government.
j. Although City Managers have not universally lowered the total cost of government in their respective communities materially, unit costs often have been lowered.
k. It is easier to remove a manager for malfeasance than one or more elected officials.