City manager myth or reality?

In many European countries mayors enjoy considerable powers and their responsibilities cover a wide array of day-to-day activities as well as longterm projects such as health, education, policing, environment and culture.

The Mayor is perhaps lenient, he knows everything about everything, and may be surrounded by a bunch of counselors, and he costs the citizens.
Is there a solution for that?

Of course, one of the solutions is City Manager. That person should be a professional and politically independent. As the top appointed official in the city, the city manager is typically responsible for most if not all of the day-to-day administrative operations of the municipality, in addition to other expectations.
Some of the basic roles, responsibilities, and powers of a city manager include:
• Supervision of day-to-day operations of all city departments and staff through department heads;
• Oversight of all recruitment, dismissal, disciplining and suspensions;
• Preparation, monitoring, and execution of the city budget, which includes submitting each year to the council a proposed budget package with options and recommendations for its consideration and possible approval;
• Main technical advisor to the council on overall local governmental operations;
• Public relations, such as meeting with citizens, citizen groups, businesses, and other stakeholders (the presence of a mayor may alter this function somewhat);
• Operating the city with a professional understanding of how all city functions operate together to their best effect;

That is how it must be in practice.
The professional-manager system was an early 20th century reform derived from the corporate-governance model, in which a trained professional who runs the business reports to and receives direction from a board of directors, which makes policy.

Yes! This is a great model! (but just in case if like to run a firm)

But local government is not a firm!
We’re trying to run a local government. And as useful as it is for government to borrow from the best practices of business, there are essential differences between government and business. And those differences demand different types of leadership.

The primary goal of a business is to make money. The primary goal of a local government is to provide services to the public that the public wants and needs. That needs to be done in the most efficient way possible — and that’s a place to look to the corporate model — but there are important steps that occur before the delivery of services.

A government has to make decisions that are in the best interest of all its citizens. It has to balance the competing value of majority rule with protecting the rights of the minority. It has to obey the Constitution — most of which does not apply to private individuals and businesses. It has to guard against its officials and employees taking actions that could benefit them personally — which businesses can prohibit or not, depending on what they consider important.

City Manager will encounter many problems and obstacles, as politicians want to make promises given before the election, and when this review expert – can bring data drive decision!
This is important because advisers are elected by the Mayor, and they are not objective.

City manager will meet his work with many problems because his decisions will try to stop the mayor and the city council, while on the other hand it may be a corrective factor to them!
It is to balance the often contradictory desires of the electorate, to translate those competing interests into an agenda and then to work with the City Council to enact that agenda.

And finally, do we need a mayor or city manager?
Anyway, we need it!

Every city with more than 50,000 citizens needs a professional who will lead projects and finances well, keep it under control, and the mayor to pursue his political and protocol obligations.

In such organized city administration, high-quality IT support comes to the fore, and it is not necessary spend days and hours on meetings with city office managers explaining why they need IT and why they need a “data driven decision”!

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