The City has a Council-Manager form of government.
The City Council is comprised of a seven member Council. All Council Members serve four-year staggered terms. Every other odd year four at-large members are elected to the council. Every other alternate odd year three ward members are elected to the council. The City Council then elects the Major from within the seven council members. The Mayor is also a council member and may be either a ward member or at-large. A new Mayor is elected at every odd year election. All elections are on a non-partisan basis. The Council appoints the City Manager and City Attorney.
The Mayor presides over the Council meetings and has full voting privileges. The City Manager is the chief administrative officer of the City. City departments are responsible to the City Manager for the provision of public services.
The Council-Manager Form of Government
The council-manager form is the system of local government that combines the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a council or other governing body, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager. The form establishes a representative system where all power is concentrated in the elected council and where the council hires a professionally trained manager to oversee the delivery of public services.
"The objective of the council-manager plan is to take "politics" out of city government by turning over its administration to a professional manager. This plan developed in the Progressive movement as a response to the influence of parties and party politicians over city government under the mayor-council plan. Critics said that there is nothing political about cleaning streets, picking up garbage, building parks, and so forth, and believed that the system could be effectively run by a professional taking general directions from and elected city council. If the members of the council are elected in non-partisan elections, the influence of party politics is even further reduced. Most cities in Michigan have this form and range all over the state, from Monroe and St. Joseph, to Traverse City, East Lansing, Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie."
~Michigan Local Government Structure, Services and Practices
A Responsive Form of Government
In council-manager government, council members are the leaders and policy makers elected to represent various segments of the community and to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens' needs and wishes. The manager is appointed by council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served.
The Council's Function
The council is the legislative body; its members are the community's decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected council, for example, they approve the budget and amend ordinances, etc. The council also focuses on the community's goals, major projects, and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing, and strategic planning. The council hires a professional manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervises the manager's performance.
The Manager's Function
The manager is hired to serve the council and the community and to bring to the local government the benefits of training and experience in administering local government projects and programs on behalf of the governing body. The manager prepares a budget for the council's consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government's staff; serves as the council's chief adviser; and carries out the council's policies. Council members and citizens count on the manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.
The Mayor's Function
Mayors in council-manager communities (or chairpersons in counties) are key political leaders and policy developers. In the case of the council, the mayor is responsible for soliciting citizen views in forming these policies and interpreting them to the public. The mayor presides at council meetings, serves as a spokesperson for the community, facilitates communication and understanding between elected and appointed officials, assists the council in setting goals and advocating policy decisions, and serves as a promoter and defender of the community. In addition, the mayor serves as a key representative in intergovernmental relations. The mayor, council, and manager constitute a policy-development and management team.