The mayor–council government system is a system of organization of local government. It is one of the two most common forms of local government in the United States and is also used in Canada. It is the one most frequently adopted in large cities, although the other form, council–manager government, is the local government form of more municipalities.
Characterized by having an executive mayor who is elected by the voters, and a separately elected legislative city council, the variant may be broken down into two main variations depending on the relationship between the legislative and executive branches, becoming a weak-mayor or a strong-mayor variation based upon the powers of the office. These forms are used principally in modern representative municipal governments in the United States, but also are used in some other countries.
In a weak-mayor system, the mayor has no formal authority outside the council; the mayor cannot directly appoint or remove officials, and lacks veto power over council votes.As such, the mayor's influence is solely based on personality in order to accomplish desired goals.
The weak-mayor form of government may be found in small towns in the United States that do not use the more popular council–manager form used in most municipalities that are not considered large or major cities, and is frequently seen in small municipalities with few or no full-time municipal employees.
The strong-mayor form of mayor–council government usually consists of an executive branch, a mayor elected by voters, and a unicameral council as the legislative branch.
In the strong-mayor form the elected mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence, with the power to appoint and dismiss department heads without council approval and little or no public input. In this system, the strong-mayor prepares and administers the city budget, although that budget often must be approved by the council. Abuses in this form led to the development of the council–manager form of local government and its adoption widely throughout the United States.
In some strong-mayor governments, the mayor will appoint a chief administrative officer who will supervise department heads, prepare the budget, and coordinate departments. This officer is sometimes called a city manager; while the term city manager is used in the council–manager form of municipal government, the manager in the strong-mayor variant is responsible only to the mayor.
Most major and large American cities use the strong-mayor form of the mayor–council system, whereas middle-sized and small American cities tend to use the council–manager system.
A local government is a form of public administration which, in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state. The term is used to contrast with offices at state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government and also to supranational government which deals with governing institutions between states. Local governments generally act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the higher level of government. In federal states, local government generally comprises the third tier of government, whereas in unitary states, local government usually occupies the second or third tier of government, often with greater powers than higher-level administrative divisions.
In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.
The council–manager government form is one of two predominant forms of local government in the United States and Ireland, the other being the mayor–council government form. Council–manager government form also is used in both county and city governments in the United States. The council–manager form is also used for municipal government in Canada and many other countries, both for city councils and county councils.
The administrative divisions of New York are the various units of government that provide local services, "local" meaning "not statewide", in the State of New York. The New York State Constitution standardized the names and functions of these statewide.
A town council, village council, shire council or shire or rural council is a form of local government for small municipalities.
A borough, in the context of local government in the U.S. state of New Jersey, refers to one of five types and one of eleven forms of municipal government.
The Faulkner Act, or Optional Municipal Charter Law, provides for New Jersey municipalities to adopt a council–manager government.
City commission government is a form of local government in the United States. In a city commission government, voters elect a small commission, typically of five to seven members, on a plurality-at-large voting basis.
The government of the City of Chicago, Illinois is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years, with no term limits. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other citywide elected officials are the City Clerk and the treasurer.
Massachusetts shares with the five other New England states a governmental structure known as the New England town. Only the southeastern third of the state has functioning county governments; in western, central, and northeastern Massachusetts, traditional county-level government was eliminated in the late 1990s. Generally speaking, there are four kinds of public school districts in Massachusetts: local schools, regional schools, vocational/technical schools, and charter schools.
The Optional Municipal Charter Law or Faulkner Act provides New Jersey municipalities with a variety of models of local government. This legislation is called the Faulkner Act in honor of the late Bayard H. Faulkner, former mayor of Montclair, New Jersey and chairman of the Commission on Municipal Government.
The government of the U.S. State of Oklahoma, established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.
In the U.S. state of Louisiana, the typical governing body of the parish is called the Police Jury. Not every parish is governed by a Police Jury, but 38 of the 64 parishes use this system.
The state of Michigan is largely divided in the same way as many other U.S. states, but is distinct in its usage of charter townships. Michigan ranks 13th among the fifty states in terms of the number of local governmental entities.
The government of Indiana is established and regulated by the Constitution of Indiana. The state-level government consists of three branches, the judicial branch, the legislative branch, and the executive branch. The three branches share power and jointly govern the state of Indiana. County and local governments are also constitutional bodies with limited authority to levy taxes, pass legislation, and create and maintain local public infrastructure.
Local government in New Jersey is composed of counties and municipalities. Local jurisdictions are simpler in New Jersey than in other states because every square foot of the state is part of exactly one municipality; each of the 565 municipalities is in exactly one county; and each of the 21 counties has more than one municipality. New Jersey has no unincorporated areas, independent cities, or consolidated city-counties.
The Federal government of Mexico is the national government of the United Mexican States, the central government established by its constitution to share sovereignty over the republic with the governments of the 31 individual Mexican states, and to represent such governments before international bodies such as the United Nations. The Mexican federal government has three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial and functions per the Constitution of the United Mexican States, as enacted in 1917, and as amended. The executive power is exercised by the executive branch, which is headed by the president and his Cabinet, which, together, are independent of the legislature. Legislative power is vested upon the Congress of the Union, a bicameral legislature comprising the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Judicial power is exercised by the judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, the Council of the Federal Judiciary, and the collegiate, unitary, and district courts.
Local government in Pennsylvania is government below the state level in Pennsylvania. There are six types of local governments listed in the Pennsylvania Constitution: county, township, borough, town, city, and school district. All of Pennsylvania is included in one of the state's 67 counties, which are in total subdivided into 2,561 municipalities. There are currently no independent cities or unincorporated territories within Pennsylvania.
In the United States, there are several distinct types of mayors, depending on the system of local government.