What is a Strong Mayor?
The term “Strong Mayor” refers to the Mayor-Council governance model. Citizens of Colorado Springs elected to change the form of City government in November 2010. The Mayor-Council governance model is patterned after the United States Constitution with the Mayor as the Executive Branch and City Council as the Legislative Branch. It establishes a system of checks and balances and creates accountability.
The Mayor is not a member of the City Council, but may participate in City Council meetings. The Mayor represents the City on local, state and national levels and is authorized to sign legal documents on behalf of the City. In his absence, his duties are performed by the President of the City Council.
The Mayor appoints all department directors, except for the City Auditor and Executive Director of Colorado Springs Utilities, who are appointed by the City Council. The Mayor does not have authority over Colorado Springs Utilities, nor does he share control with City Council over Council responsibilities such as the Banning-Lewis oil and gas review process.
The Mayor proposes a City Budget and the Council approves or changes it. The City Council is Colorado Springs’ legislative body. It sets policies, approves budgets, establishes tax rates and passes ordinances and resolutions to govern the city.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What was Initiative 300?
Initiative 300 proposed a more effective, accountable government by making the Colorado Springs Mayor the full-time chief executive of the city, overseeing the budget, city staff and day-to-day operations.
Why did citizens vote for this change?
Earlier, the mayor was part-time and just one vote on a committee of nine council members. A hired, unelected city manager oversaw daily city operations. The city was seen as a revolving door of city managers (five in the last 10 years), leading to instability and a lack of vision and leadership. Initiative 300 gave voters a say in who leads the city, how tax dollars are spent, and made the city’s chief executive directly accountable to citizens. The Strong Mayor system of government created clear lines of authority and accountability with checks and balances, mirroring the President-Congress model outlined in the US Constitution (Ex: the Mayor makes key staff appointments, but they must be approved by City Council). The executive mayor form of government combines the strengths of representation (through City Council members) with an executive.
Are there any other cities that have a Mayor-Council form of government?