What Are Some Common Local Government Structures?


Quick Answer

Council-Manager, Mayor-Council and Commission are all common forms of local, or municipal, government in the United States. Current trends indicate that Council-Manager is the most common form of government, with 55% of municipalities utilizing the structure as of 2006. Second most common is Mayor-Council which is utilized in just over one third of the cities International City/County Management Association.

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Full Answer

The Council-Manager structure features a city council which has general oversight of the municipal government, which includes the development of the city budget, policy administration and general administrative tasks. The council also appoints a city manager who oversees all day-to-day administrative concerns. This form of government is common in cities with 10,000 or more citizens especially in the Southeast United States along with the Pacific coast. Notable cities which utilize this structure include Phoenix, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT and Topeka, KS.

Mayor-Council differs from the Council-Manager structure in that the mayor is elected independently from the City Council. The mayor, as opposed to a city manager, has significant budgetary and administrative powers. However, these powers will vary from city to city. This form of government is most common in large older cities such as New York, NY, Houston, TX and Minneapolis, MN. It is also common in very small cities.

In a Commission governmental system, citizens elect a governing board with each member responsible for a specific area of the city's operation such as sanitation, fire or finance. Typically, one member of the board will be appointed mayor or chairman. Members of this board posses both legislative and executive authority. While this is the oldest form of American municipal government, it has become less common.

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