Form of Government

The City manager plan is similar to the commission plan, in that it provides for a mayor and four commissioners, who together, make up the board of commissioners, which possesses the legislative and executive powers of the city, but it differs by vesting the administrative power in an appointed official called the city manager (KRS 83A.1SO).

The mayor in the city manager plan, outside of his position as a member of the board of commissioners is only titular head of the city. KRS 83A.150 explicitly states that aside from being recognized as the head of the government by the governor for purposes of military law, the mayor shall have no regular administrative duties. All executive power is vested in the board. The only duty of the mayor outside his position as a member of the board is to make and execute all bonds, notes, contracts, administer oaths, and written obligations authorized by the board. As a member of the board, he is a presiding officer (KRS 83A.150[3]).

The board of commissioners is composed of four commissioners and the mayor (KRS 83A.020). All legislative and executive authority is vested in the board. The commission:

  • Shall establish all appointive offices;
  • Shall promulgate codes, rules, and regulations necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city;
  • shall provide for sufficient revenue to operate the city and appropriate such funds in an annual budget;
  • may require any officer or employee of the city to make a sworn statement regarding the performance of his official duties; and
  • shall create the office of city manager and set the qualification for the office (KRS 83A.150[5],[6],[7]).

The board is to meet at least once a month, at such times and places as are fixed by the ordinance. Special meetings of the board may be called by the mayor or a majority of the board. No business other than specified in the call shall be considered at the special meeting. The mayor presides at meetings, and is his absence, the mayor pro-tem. Minutes shall be kept of the proceeding of the board and shall be signed by the presiding officer and the city clerk (KRS 83A.150[3],[4]).

It is mandatory in a city operating under the city managers plan that the board of commissioners establish the office of city manager. The manager is appointed by vote of a majority of the members on the board for an indefinite term and shall be removable only by a vote of a majority of the board. The manager may be removed after the following procedure. Thirty days prior to the proposed date of termination, the board shall adopt a preliminary resolution setting out the reasons for dismissal. The preliminary resolution may suspend the manager, but he shall continue to be paid his compensation for the next calendar month following the adoption of the resolution, the manager may request a full public hearing before the board. If requested, the board shall hold such hearing not earlier than 20 days after the request nor later than 30 days. The board may then adopt a resolution of removal if necessary (KRS 83A.150[8]).

The board sets qualifications for the manager, which shall include “professional training or administrative qualification, with special reference to actual experience in or knowledge of accepted practice regarding duties of the office (KRS 83A.150[7]).” The manager is the chief administrative officer of the city, and exercises the following executive powers and whatever other powers may be delegated to him by ordinance The manager:

  • shall have direct responsibility to the board for the proper administration of all duties assigned to him;
  • shall recommend personnel decisions to the board for its action;
  • may appoint persons to temporary positions without approval of the board subject to such conditions as may be imposed by the board;
  • shall prepare and submit a budget proposal to the board and be responsible for its administration once adopted;
  • shall keep the board advised of the financial condition of the city and make recommendations as he deems advisable;
  • shall maintain liaison with other local governments regarding inter local contracting and joint activities;
  • shall supervise all city departments and the conduct of the employees and officers, and require reports from such as deemed desirable;
  • shall enforce the city manager’s plan, ordinances, and applicable statutes;
  • shall promulgate procedures to insure the orderly administration of the functions of the city, subject to approval by the board (KRS 83A.150[7],[9]).

The city manager may declare delegate powers and duties to subordinate officers, and all such delegations shall be by municipal order (KRS 83A.150[9]).

As of the effective date of the Municipal Code (July 15, 1980), all cities in Kentucky, execpt for Louisville and Lexington Fayette Urban-County, ceased to be organized in accordance with the old law, and become organized under one of the three organizational plans. Cities of the second through the fifth classes which were organized under the mayor-council plans contained in KRS chapters 84 to 87 were organized as mayor-council cities pursuant to KRS 83A.130. Cities organized under the commission plans contained in KRS 89.110-89.380 and cities of the sixth class organized under the Board of Trustees plan of KRS chapter 88 were organized as commission plan cities pursuant to KRS 83A.140. Cities organized under the city manager plan of KRS 89.390-89.690 were organized as city manager plan cities pursuant to KRS 83A.150.

A city may change its plan of government, if approved by the residents of the city, pursuant to the procedure outlined for public questions under KRS 83A.120. Any city may elect to be governed under any of the three plans. However, a city may not change its plan of government more often than every five years. When change has been approved by the voters, the effective date of change will depend upon when the proper number of legislative body members can be secured. If the new plan results in a reduction of members, the effective date will be the date of the expiration of the terms of the members, if they are all elected at the same time, or if the members are elected on a staggered basis, when the terms of enough members have expired to have compliance. If the change results in an increase in membership of the legislative body, the effective date shall be at the time a sufficient number of members can be elected. A city shall be in compliance in no more than two years after the adoption of the new plan by the voters. After the change, the corporate entity of the city shall remain in the same, and all statutes of ordinances in force not inconsistent with the new plan shall remain in effect (KRS 83A.160).