Council - Manager Plan

The Council-Manager Plan (C-M Plan) is a form of local government developed in the United States to help cities cope more effectively, efficiently and economically with increasingly complex local problems. It provides for a professional executive appointed by and continuously responsible to a popularly elected council.

History of the C-M Plan
In 1908, Staunton, Virginia instituted the 1st position legally defining, by ordinance, the broad authority and responsibility associated with today’s professional local government manager. Sumter, South Carolina was the 1st city to adopt a charter incorporating the basic principles of council-manager government in 1912. Since its inception, it has become the predominant form of local government in the United States and is widely regarded as a major American contribution to the improvement of municipal government, particularly in overcoming local structural weaknesses.

Purpose of the Plan
The C-M Plan provides a direct political link between the voters and their elected Mayor and City Council. On the other hand, there is an intentional political disconnect between the elected officials and the professional operation of the city. This form of government was developed because of historic problems in cities where elected Mayors sometimes placed political appointees in charge of various municipal operations, rather than those who were skilled and trained in the various city disciplines and services. This is the most popular form of government in the State of Michigan and establishes a governmental operation similar to the organization of a typical business in the private sector:

Private Sector Business Organization
  • Shareholders and stockholders
  • Board of Directors
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/President
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Senior Vice-Presidents
  • Vice Presidents / Division Heads
  • Employees
Public Sector C-M Plan Organization
  • Citizens, Taxpayers and Voters
  • City Council
  • Mayor (CEO)
  • City Manager (Chief Admin. Officer- CAO)
  • Department Heads
  • Division Heads
  • Professional Staff
Adoption of the C-M Plan
Fremont voters adopted the Council-Manager form of government by approving the current City Charter in 1972. Since then, the political leadership of elected officials has been effectively combined with the managerial experience of a City Manager. The C-M Plan establishes a representative system where all power is concentrated in the elected City Council, which hires a professionally trained manager to carry out its directives and oversee the delivery of public services. The manager is hired by the Council to serve as the City's chief administrator.

Because our City Council is a legislative body, its members are the community's policy-makers elected to represent various segments of the community. The Plan permits the Council to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens' needs and wishes. These issues address the broader aspects of the community's goals and deal with subjects such as major projects and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing and strategic planning.

Additional Information
Further information on the Council-Manager plan is available through the web site of the International City/County Management Association ( ICMA). Members of ICMA, including Fremont’s City Manager, subscribe to and are bound by a formal Code of Ethics and a Declaration of Ideals for the profession.