Types of City Government - There are two forms of city government in Thurston County: mayor-council and
council-manager. Under both forms of government the council is the city’s legislative and policy-making body. All council members are elected.
The council enacts all ordinances, resolutions, and policies consistent with state law for the safety and welfare of the city’s or town’s residents. Ordinances may include local tax measures authorized by statute. Traffic, fire protection, police, land use, municipal services, business, and other regulations are overseen by the council. The council controls the city’s finances through the budgeting and auditing processes and by exercising general oversight. The council also makes contracts, creates subordinate positions, prescribes duties, and fixes salaries. The mayor’s role depends upon the form of government in a particular city or town.
Mayor-Council: Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, Tumwater, and Yelm.
In this form of government, the mayor is elected and is the city’s chief executive or administrative officer and the ceremonial head of the city. The mayor carries out the council’s policies, administers day-to-day city affairs, and with some limitations appoints, supervises, and discharges subordinate officers. The mayor presides over council meetings and has a veto power over ordinances.
Council-Manager: Lacey and Olympia.
In this form of government the council appoints a city manager as the chief administrative officer. The manager appoints and discharges all department heads and subordinate officers and is responsible to the council for the proper administration of all city affairs. The council may discharge the manager but may not interfere with or bypass the manager’s day-to-day administration of subordinates. A council member is selected by the council, or by an alternative election method, to act as chairman with the title of “mayor”. The mayor continues to be a full member of the council with all attendant rights, privileges, and immunities. The mayor also presides over council meetings and acts as the ceremonial head of the city. The mayor has no regular administrative powers but may be required to exercise certain powers in emergencies.
All city and town positions are nonpartisan.