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West Jordan Journal

Form Of Government Explained

Jun 19, 2015 06:42PM ● By City Journals Staff
West Jordan - by David L. Church, from the Utah League of Cities and Towns

The following is and excerpt from “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

The most common cause of conflict is misunderstanding the form of government that the city and town is operating under. Too many people run for an office without understanding the office they seek. 

The form and structure of local government are set first by state law and second by local ordinance and policy.

The state law establishes the basic form of government for all cities and towns [see Utah Code section 10-3b-101 et seq.].

There are three basic forms of government. They are known as the council-mayor form of government, the six-member council form of government and the five-member council form of government.

Prior to May 4, 2008 there was also a form of government known as the council-manager optional form of government. That form is no longer available under state law, but the cities and towns that had previously adopted that form continue to operate under it. 

The state law also allows voters in all cities and towns to change forms of government to any of the three approved forms [see Utah Code section 10-3b-501 et seq.].

Within six-member council and five-member council forms of government, there is the flexibility to adopt local rules and procedures [see Utah Code section 10-3b-303(1)(b) and section 10-3b-403(1)(b)].

Not everyone elected to an office of mayor has the same powers. 

The power and duties of mayor in the six- and five-member council forms of government is very different from the mayor in the council-mayor form of government under state law, and even within the various six- and five-member council forms of government there will be differences between mayors in different cities and towns depending on local ordinances.

Mayors elected in a city operating under the council-mayor form of government are the heads of an executive branch of government [Utah Code section 10-3b-201, 202].

The executive branch is separate, independent and equal to the legislative branch. These mayors are powerful people.

A mayor in a city operating under the old council-manager optional form is a figurehead mayor only [See former Utah Code section 10-3-1223 now repealed]. The mayor is a member of the council and does not have any executive or administrative powers. An appointed city manager holds the executive and administrative powers.

Mayors in cities and towns that are operating under the six- and five-member council forms of government fall somewhere between these two extremes …”   

Read the full article at in their Policy Research section.