the

Difference between Mayor & City Manager

what is the difference between a mayor

and a city manager the form of

government we used to have is called

mayor council we voters elected a mayor

and six members of the City Council the

main issue in this form of government is

performance accountability the mayor

takes charge of the staff and runs the

city every year the council approves the

budget for the mayor and staff to spend

here's the accountability flaw

the mayor answers to the voters the

council also answers to the voters but

the mayor does not have to carry out

policy or actually do what the council

agrees on there is no performance

accountability they need to work

together to make the city effective but

instead this system sets up a finger

pointing blame cycle both sides blame

each other and appeal to the voters

there is no effective way for them to

work it out because accountability is

running in two circles like this the

voters can change the players true but

it's a long time between elections in

the meantime the staff gets frustrated

by on-again-off-again decisions city

services suffer and voters can't do much

about it between elections the structure

creates and sustains conflict but it

doesn't have to be this way the

council-manager form of government looks

like this we elect one individual as

mayor and six individuals at-large to

the City Council the council with the

mayor counting as a member and a vote on

the council hires a highly trained and

competent professional city manager to

manage the staff and to run the

day-to-day operations of the city the

mayor does not manage the staff of the

city look at how accountability works

with a council-manager form of

government the mayor and council

approved the budget and the city manager

spends the money but in this system the

city manager has to answer directly to

the council on a regular basis his job

is on the line if something is at

working his motivation is to identify

the problem and fix it as fast as

possible in the mayor council form of

government if something isn't working

there's a very natural tendency to wall

off information to not talk about

problems and hope that things get better

before the next election why not the

structure encourages mayor and staff to

avoid questions or selectively filter or

emphasize information because they have

limited accountability but it

council-manager form of government the

structure changes the motivations the

city manager has to explain what his

staff is doing in a consistent manner

and on a regular basis staff loyalties

are aligned through him to the council

the mayor and council can make consensus

decisions and monitor the city managers

implementation when the voters are

concerned about the way city affairs are

being conducted they know exactly where

to direct their feedback the mayor and

city council in a council-manager form

of government the voters can put

pressure on the council the council

directs the city manager to make changes

he does so because the mayor and council

are his boss over here in the mayor

council form of government where's the

feedback point the mayor and staff

blamed the council the council blamed

the mayor the staff answers to the mayor

so they try to protect their side by

trying to control any information that

would reflect poorly on city performance

all the motivations line up to make

people defend their turf and the voters

can get clear answers because of all the

finger-pointing so the council-manager

form of government has the mayor and

council working together with the city

manager and staff to make the city more

responsive accountable and efficient the

mayor and council provide the city with

political leadership and the short and

long range vision they approve an annual

budget adopt new policy hire and fire

the city manager and promote the city's

interests at the local state federal and

international levels the mayor and

council are the managers boss the city

manager works under the guidance of the

mayor and council and runs the

day-to-day operations of the city in an

efficient manner implements the annual

budget based on guidance from the

council implements new policy execute

contracts directs staff and settles

employee disputes and problems and

communicates regularly and consistently

with the mayor and city council the

council-manager form of government is

the most common form of government for

cities our size because it is effective

accountable and efficient