The 2015 Utah's Freest Cities Ranking

Forms of City Government

There are five forms of city government in Utah. Below is a description of each.

Council-Mayor

A city with this form of government has two separate and equal branches of government: the legislative branch (a council with five or seven members) and an executive branch (the mayor and all executive and administrative departments).

The mayor is the CEO and executes the policies adopted by the city council. The mayor appoints, with the council's advice and consent, candidates to the various positions within city government. The mayor has veto power.

The council enacts laws, appropriates taxation revenue, and reviews administrative actions. One council member is elected to be the chair of the council.

Six-member Council

The mayor in this city is a member of the council—which includes five elected council members—but is a non-voting member, except: when there is a tie vote by the council; when the council is voting on whether to appoint or dismiss a municipal manager; or on an ordinance that enlarges or restricts the mayor's powers, duties, or functions.

The mayor is the chair of, and presides over, the council. The mayor may not veto the council's decisions. The mayor is the CEO and sees that the city's ordinances are observed and enforced.

The mayor's duties may be taken away from the mayor and given to either the council, city manager, or city administrator by council vote. This vote must be a unanimous council vote, or a majority of the council with the mayor's vote.

Five-member Council

The mayor in this city is a member of the council—which includes four elected council members—and is a regular and voting member. The mayor is the chair of, and presides over, the council. The mayor may not veto the council's decisions.

The mayor is the CEO and sees that the city's ordinances are observed and enforced.

The mayor's duties may be taken away from the mayor and given to either the council, city manager, or city administrator by council vote. This vote must be a unanimous council vote, or a majority of the council with the mayor's vote.

Council-Manager

This form has been removed from state law and is only available as a grandfathered option to cities that were already using it.

In a city with this form of government, a city manager is the CEO, running the daily operations of the city and appointing individuals to city offices.

The mayor is ceremonial only. The mayor chairs the council and votes as a regular member. The council hires, and can fire, the city manager. Council members do not have any administrative or executive functions in the city.

Charter

The Utah Constitution provides that voters in a city can, within some limits, create their own form of government. This is called a charter and is similar to having an individualized municipal code for that city. A petition, public hearing, and election are required in order to move to the charter model. This process is outlined in Article XI Section 5 of the Utah Constitution.

For greater detail on these descriptions, click here.