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Hillsboro 101: Understanding Our Council-Manager Form of Government

Post Date:07/05/2017

Hillsboro Civic CenterFor more than 90 years, the City of Hillsboro has utilized the Council-Manager form of government. Voters approved this form of government through the City of Hillsboro Charter, Hillsboro’s constitution, to create an exceptional place to live. Why is that? Let’s find out.

What is a Council-Manager form of government?
Hillsboro’s Council-Manager structure is a representative system that places political leadership in the hands of elected City Councilors. The structure also enlists the expertise and professional experience of an appointed City Manager to effectively deliver the services that the Council prioritizes for the City.

What are the advantages of a Council-Manager form of government?
Beyond professional expertise, the Council-Manager system brings accountability. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council, the elected representatives of the people. The Council-Manager system often leads to lower costs through improved productivity and efficient service delivery, and the effective use of technology. In addition, the local economy benefits from improved business development and retention strategies.

Council meeting What role does the Council play?
The City Manager makes policy recommendations to the City Council, who decide whether to move forward on those recommendations. The Council also approves the budget, sets goals for the community, and evaluates the performance of the City Manager.

Because political power is concentrated in the entire Council rather than one elected official, more residents have an opportunity to serve the community in elected leadership.

What role does the Mayor play?

As a member of the City Council, the Mayor is a key political leader and policy developer, leading meetings and speaking on behalf of the community. The Mayor also facilitates communications between elected leaders and represents the City in discussions with other cities and governments.

2035 Plan CoverWhat role do other community members play?
Residents and other stakeholders play a vital role in the decision-making process by electing representatives to the Council, by volunteering on advisory Boards and Commissions, by attending meetings, and by participating in planning for the City’s future, including the Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan.

Do other cities use a Council-Manager form of government?
As of 2017, roughly half of the more than 7,100 cities and towns in the United States with populations greater than 2,500 residents operate as Council-Manager governments. The structure also is used by more than 370 counties, for a total of more than 92 million Americans living in communities that use a Council-Manager form of government.

Nearly three in five cities with more than 100,000 residents use this form of government, including:

  • Phoenix, Arizona - 1.5 million residents
  • San Antonio, Texas - 1.4 million residents
  • Dallas, Texas - 1.3 million residents
  • San Jose, California - 1 million residents
  • Austin, Texas - 900,000+ residents
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