By Charter the City of Kent is governed by the principles of the Council-Manager form of government. It is a form of government that became popular in the early part of this century and was adopted in Kent in the 1970’s.
A number of cities in northeast Ohio still use the strong “Mayor and Council” form of government, which places elected officials in direct charge of the administrative functions of the City. This means that the elected officials are responsible for not only the policy making functions of the organization, but also the day-to-day decision making, administration, bill paying and personnel administration of the City.
The Kent City Council is composed of nine members. Three are elected at-large and six members represent Wards in the city of Kent. Council members are elected in staggered terms with each council member and the Mayor serving four-year terms.
The Mayor’s seat is a ceremonial position and the Mayor presides at meetings of the City Council, voting only in event of a tie. There are several committees of Kent City Council which oversee various aspects of the City’s government. The Committees recommend actions to the full Council. No action is official until adopted by Kent City Council.
The Council-Manager form of government is more common in other parts of Ohio and is used in over 3,000 communities throughout the country. Under Kent’s Charter, the Council-Manager system requires that the elected officials, City Council members, are responsible for policy decisions, and for the hiring and supervision of its direct employees-the City Manager and the City Clerk.
The City Manager, in turn, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization, and gives direction to the staff members who are City employees. Under the Charter, the City Council members are specifically prohibited from giving direction to, hiring or firing any of the staff members, except for the City Manager and the City Clerk.
The philosophy behind the Council-Manager form of government is to create an administrative organization which is separate from the political process, and which is run by professional staff members who are trained in municipal government administration. This places the City Manager in the role of being responsible to the City Council for the actions of staff in each of the City’s departments.
What is the council-manager form, which is used in so many local governments?
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.
Is it 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 the Mayor and Council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served.
What is the Mayor and Council’s function?
The Mayor and Council is the legislative body; its members are the community’s decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected Mayor and Council, which approves the budget and determines the tax rate, for example. The Mayor and 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 Mayor and Council hire a professional manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervise the manager’s performance.
What is the city manager’s function?
The city manager is hired to serve the Mayor and 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 Mayor and Council’s consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government’s staff; serves as the Mayor and Council’s chief adviser; and carries out the Mayor and Council’s policies. The Mayor and Council and citizens count on the manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.
Does the city manager participate in policy determination?
The city manager makes policy recommendations to the Mayor and Council, but the Mayor and Council may or may not adopt them and may modify the recommendations. The city manager is bound by whatever action the Mayor and Council takes.
How much citizen participation is possible under council-manager government?
The City of Kent welcomes citizen participation in the decision-making process. Because professional local government management offers government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it sets the stage for citizen activism by encouraging open communication between citizens and their government. A great example was the development of the City’s Bicentennial Plan, in which citizens played a major role in determining the future of the community.
Citizens also have the opportunity to present issues to the Mayor and Council at the beginning of Council meetings; talk one-on-one with councilmembers; or express their concerns at a Public Hearing. In addition, citizens are encouraged to become members of boards and commissions.
How is the city manager selected?
The vacancy usually is advertised nationally, and city managers, assistants, and others who are interested apply directly to the Mayor and Council. The Mayor and Council conducts a search for candidates, often by inviting managers in other communities to apply if they are interested.
Can the city manager be fired?
City managers serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council. They can be fired by a majority of the Mayor and Council, consistent with local laws, ordinances, or employment agreements they may have with the Mayor and Council. Control is always in the hands of the elected representatives of the people.