City Government

The Council-Manager Form of Government

The City of Charleston operates under the Council-Manager form of government. Under the council-manager form of government, the council is the governing body of the city, elected by the public, and the manager is hired by the council to carry out the policies it establishes. The Mayor and Council Members are elected to staggered four (4) year terms of office.

The Function of City Council

The council is the legislative body; its members are the community's decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected council, which approves the budget and determines the tax rate, for example. The council also focuses on the community's goals, major projects, and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing and strategic planning, rather than the administrative details. It hires a professional manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervises the manager's performance.

The Manager's Function

The manager is hired to serve the council and the community and to bring to the local government the benefits of training and experience in administering local government projects and programs on behalf of the governing body. The manager prepares a recommended budget for the council's consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government's staff; serves as the council's chief adviser; and carries out the council's policies. Council members and citizens count on the manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences. Managers formed a professional association, ICMA, in 1914 to help share expertise and experiences in local government management to best serve their communities. Local governments have found that overall costs have actually been reduced with competent management. Savings may be in the form of reduced operating costs, increased efficiency and productivity, improved revenue collection, or effective use of technology.
The manager makes policy recommendations to the council, but the council may or may not adopt them and may change or modify them. The manager is bound by whatever action the council takes.

The Mayor's Role

Mayors in council-manager communities (or chairpersons in counties) are key political leaders and policy developers. Along with the council members, the mayor is responsible for soliciting citizen views in forming these policies and interpreting them to the public. The mayor presides at council meetings, facilitates communication and understanding between elected and appointed officials, assists the council in setting goals and in advocating policy decisions, and serves as a promoter and defender of the community. In addition, the mayor serves as a key representative in intergovernmental relations. The mayor, council, and manager constitute a policy-development and management team

City Officials

The elected and appointed officials who serve the community of Charleston are a dedicated group of individuals who are committed to providing exceptional citizen service at all times.

City Departments

The City of Charleston is comprised of the following departments: Administration, City Clerk, Comptroller, Fire, Information Services, Parks & Recreation, Planning, Police, and Public Works.
The workforce consists of 128 full-time employees under the direction of these Department Directors.

Boards and Commissions

Charleston City Code

The City of Charleston’s rules and regulations are created by individual ordinances. These ordinances are then incorporated into one book for ease of use. This book is the City Code.