municipal governments

Municipal Governments in the United States

Municipal governments are the legal systems of the states in the United States. They are established in compliance with state laws and constitutions. Every state has a provision for forming local governments and determining the amount of jurisdiction they may have. In the United States, there are four types of municipal governments: strong mayors, commissions, mayor-councils, and council-managers.

The Mayor-Council Form of Government

The mayor-council, in my opinion, is the most sensitive to the demands of its residents. This is due to the fact that authority is divided between the executive and the legislative. The mayor and the council are also elected independently. Carr (2015) noted that the mayor’s duties include hiring department heads, budget preparation and administration and in some municipalities, veto power. The legislature’s responsibilities include budget adoption, passage of resolutions adoption of policies and auditing government performance. The council also has the power to reduce or increase the powers of the executive.

The Council-Manager Form of Government

The needs of employees are best addressed in a council-manager form of government. This is because the council hires a manager to oversee the day-to-day operations, hire and fire employees and prepare the budget (Kemp, 1998). To ensure smooth operations of day-to-day activities, the manager will have to address employee issues in order to boost their morale.

Political Influences in Municipal Governments

Political influences affect all four forms of governance to some degree. However, the strong mayor governance is greatly influenced by politics. Moreover, interest groups can realize their objectives by manipulating the mayor instead of convincing the majority of the council members. This is because, in this form of governance, the mayor is the most powerful and influential person in the government.

The Commission Form of Government

The only governance that can be insulated from political pressures is the commission form of governance. This is because all the commissioners are elected and the board of commissioners holds both executive and legislative powers. It is responsible for passing resolutions, adopting the budget, and enacting regulations and ordinances. Other officials, also elected, serve as heads of departments. These include the treasurer, clerk, and sheriff among others.


Carr, J. B. (2015). What Have We Learned about the Performance of Council-Manager Government? A Review and Synthesis of the Research. Public Administration Review, 75(5), 673-689.

Kemp, R. L. (1998). Managing America’s Cities : A Handbook for Local Government Productivity. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

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