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Capitol Heights is a council-manager form of government.
The council-manager form is the system of local government that combines the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a council or other governing body, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager. The form establishes a representative system where all power is concentrated in the elected council and where the council hires a professionally trained manager to oversee the delivery of public services.
In a council-manager form of government, council members are the leaders and policy makers elected to represent the community and to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens' needs and wishes. The town administrator is appointed by the Mayor and Council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served.
The Mayor and Council is the legislative body, and its members are the community's decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected Mayor and Council, which approves the budget and determines the tax rate, for example. The Mayor and Council also focuses on the community's goals, major projects, and long-term considerations, such as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing, and strategic planning. The Mayor and Council hire a professional town administrator to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervise the manager's performance.
The town administrator is hired to serve the Mayor and Council and the community and to bring to the local government the benefits of training and experience in administering local government projects and programs on behalf of the governing body. The administrator prepares a budget for the Mayor and Council's consideration; makes recommendations to the Mayor and Council and Personnel Committee in regards to the recruitment and hiring of employees; supervises government's staff; serves as the Mayor and Council's chief adviser; and carries out the Mayor and Council's policies. The Mayor and Council and citizens count on the administrator to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.
The town administrator may make policy recommendations to the Mayor and Council, but the Mayor and Council may or may not adopt them and may modify the recommendations. The town administrator is bound by whatever action the Mayor and Council takes.
While the Town of Capitol Heights Mayor and Council are elected at large, other municipalities elect their councils by district. Some local governments have mayors who are elected by the voters at large. Still, others are elected by their colleagues on the council.
The Town of Capitol Heights welcomes citizen participation in the decision-making process. Because professional local government management offers government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it sets the stage for citizen activism by encouraging open communication between citizens and their government. Examples range from visioning, in which citizens play a major role in determining the future of their community, to the community planning and visioning process, which involves residents through the development of citizen/government partnerships; to community-service activities. Citizens also have the opportunity to present issues to the Mayor and Council at Citizen's Forum during general session meetings; talk one-on-one with the Mayor and Council before meetings in-person, or via email or telephone, or express their concerns at a public hearing. In addition, citizens are encouraged to become members of the Town’s various committees.
The vacancy usually is announced in the ICMA Newsletter, and city managers, assistants, and others who are interested apply directly to the Mayor and Council. The Mayor and Council conducts a search for candidates, often by inviting managers in other communities to apply if they are interested. ICMA makes no recommendations regarding candidates. Further information is available in the handbook Recruitment Guidelines for Selecting a Local Government Administrator, published by ICMA. Source details come from the ICMA website.