Council - Manager Form of Government

Political Leadership & Professional Management

The council - manager form is the system of local government that combines strong political leadership, representative democracy through elected officials, and professional management. The form establishes a representative form of government by concentrating all power in the elected Town Council.

The Town Council hires a professionally trained and educated town administrator to oversee the delivery of public services and the daily operations of the Town. Council members are part-time volunteers who serve as the policy making board for the Town's government.

Costs to Local Governments

Local governments have found that overall costs have been reduced with competent management. Savings come in the form of reduced operating costs, increased efficiency and productivity, improved revenue collection, and effective use of technology.


Not all council-manager forms are structured the same way. One of its most attractive features is that the council-manager form is adaptable to local conditions and preferences. For example, some communities have councils that are elected at large while other councils are elected by district. Some local governments have mayors who are elected by the voters at large. Others are elected by their colleagues on the Town Council.

Cities & Counties

The council - manager form is not restricted to only certain kinds of cities. In fact, it is used by counties as well. Currently, 3,625 cities operate under this form. Additionally, 529 counties indicate that they operate under the county administrator form. They vary greatly in size and characteristics, including independent cities, center cities, suburbs, and counties.

Large Communities

The council - manager form is popular in large communities. Out of 199 cities with greater than 100,000 citizens, 112 use this form of government. Some examples include Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas, Cincinnati, San Antonio, Kansas, Missouri, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Removing a Manager from Office

Managers serve at the pleasure of the council or governing body. They can be terminated by a majority vote of the council, consistent with local laws, ordinances, or employment agreements they may have with the council. Control is always in the hands of the elected representatives of the people.