Position In Brief: 

Support measures that clearly define the roles of city councils and city managers/administrators.

Support measures that define the relationship between the city councils and the city manager/administrator.

Support measures that define the relationship of the City Council and the City Manager to the public.

Position History: 

1983 - Study of the local government relationships in Belmont, Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, San Carlos and San Mateo. Adopted 1983, amended 2010

Roles of city councils and city managers/administrators. Objectives:

  1. The city council has the following responsibilities:
  • To carry out duties as outlined in statutes, ordinances and/or the Charter of the City of San Mateo
  • To set policies
  • To initiate and enact ordinances
  • To refrain from making day-to-day administrative decisions
  • To appoint citizen boards, commission, and committees
  • To see that the city is in good financial condition
  • To enter into joint powers agreements
  • To review and analyze background materials prior to city council meetings
  • To lobby other bodies for causes of interest in its city
  • To be aware of regional and state affairs and to participate in regional bodies.

In cities employing the council/manager form of government, the city council should have no role in the hiring/firing of department heads.

2.   The city manager/city administrator has the responsibility

  • To be cognizant of what is occurring in the city; to oversee all departments and to ensure that all departments function properly
  • To hire/fire all department heads (manager only)
  • For all staff performance
  • To keep city council informed of the fiscal health of the city; to prepare and administer the city budget
  • To issue press releases and to provide public information
  • To be an apolitical, full-time professional person with specialized training who serves as an expert   resource
  • To watch national trends and to know what other local entities are doing
  • To set goals and objectives for the city in conjunction with the city council
  • To see that public notice is given for all public meetings and appointments
  • To prepare the agenda for city council meetings in consultation with the mayor
  • To provide a brief description of all items on the consent calendar so that the public understands the subject covered.

Relationship between the city councils and the city manager/administrator. Objectives:

  1. The city council should:
  • Hire/fire the city manager or administrator and the city attorney
  • Establish criteria for, and approve the goals of, the manager/administrator, periodically evaluating him/her based on goals and objectives
  • Evaluate the job performance of the city manager/administrator, including how well the city manager/administrator selects personnel
  • Set long-term goals with the city manager/administrator
  • Ask for information and background from the city manager/administrator
  • Have the mayor, representing the city council, work with the city  manager/administrator in assembling the agenda.

2.   The city manager/administrator should:

  • Manage and carry out policies as set by the city council
  • Be responsive to the city council
  • Advise and make recommendations and give alternatives to the city council.

Relationship of the City Council and the City Manager to the public. Objectives:

  1. The city council should be responsive to the electorate, balancing the wishes of the constituents with the best interests of the city.
  2. The city council members should be available to the citizens.
  3. The city council members should conduct business and make decisions in public.
  4. The city council should actively solicit citizen input, hold public meetings for public input on specific issues and provide adequate time on the agenda for citizen participation.
  5. The city council should treat all members of the audience courteously and should be encouraged to give reasons for their votes on controversial issues following public input.
  6. The city council should educate citizens regarding the future goals of the city and the realities of city government. The city council should hear appeals from citizens on decisions made by boards and commissions.
League to which this content belongs: 
North & Central San Mateo County