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City 101: How Does the City "Work"?

municode_imageGiven the role of city governments to serve their communities and provide essential services, they function quite differently from other organizations and private businesses. Here is an overview of how your North Plains City Government works.

Council-Manager Form of Government

The City of North Plains operates under a council-manager form of city government. The Mayor and six City Councilors are elected by registered voters who reside in the City, and they develop the policies that direct the operation of the City and approve the City’s biennial budget. They have both legislative and administrative authority that is outlined in the City’s Charter and Municipal Code.

The Mayor and Council hire the City Manager to implement their policy direction and manage the operations of the City. City Council appoints members of commissions and committees that are established by ordinance or resolution. The Mayor and Councilors are volunteers who receive no compensation for their service.

What’s a City Charter?

The City Charter is the “Constitution” for the City that serves as the basic set of rules and duties for our City government. It provides the authority under which the City operates and outlines the roles of the Mayor, Council, and City Manager.

What is the Municipal Code?

City governments have their own set of laws specific to advancing city and community goals and quality of life. These are called a Municipal Code and are a collection of ordinances adopted by the City Council over the years. The North Plains Municipal Code also includes the City’s Charter.

What are Ordinances and how are they made?

Ordinances are municipal laws that generally govern matters not already covered by state or federal laws and deal with maintaining public health and safety, zoning, behavior, and general welfare. They are part of the City Council’s “legislative authority,” are generally permanent, and may include penalties for non-compliance. 

Adoption of an ordinance requires that notice be given to the public through a public notice published on the City’s website one week prior to the City Council meeting where it will be considered. Then it must be approved by a majority of the council at two meetings, with public comment invited at the first meeting. Ordinances normally take effect on the 30th day after adoption but may take effect as soon as adopted or another date less than 30 days after adoption if it contains an emergency clause. For more specifics, see the full Ordinance section of the Municipal Code here.

What are Resolutions?

Part of City Council’s “administrative authority,” resolutions are generally less permanent enactments than ordinances, may deal with matters of a special or temporary character, and reflect an expression of opinion or policy. Approval of a resolution requires approval by City Council at one meeting and generally takes effect immediately. Some common uses of resolutions include approving a contract, hiring a new employee, and applying for a grant.

Visit our City 101 Topics webpage for more explanations about City services and priority initiatives.