Under the council–manager form of government for municipalities, the elected governing body (commonly called a city council, city commission, board of aldermen or board of selectmen) is responsible for the legislative function of the municipality such as establishing policy, passing local ordinances, voting appropriations, and developing an overall vision
The city manager position in this form of municipal government is similar to that of corporate chief executive officer (CEO), providing professional management to the board of directors. Council–manager government is much like a publicly traded corporation. In a corporation, the board of directors appoints a CEO, makes major decisions and wields representative power on behalf of shareholders. In council–manager government, the elected council appoints a city manager, makes major decisions, and wields representative power on behalf of the citizens. The city manager is, in turn, responsible for hiring a city staff to carry out implementation of city ordinances.
This system of government is used in 40.1% of American cities with populations of 2,500 or more, according to the 2011 Municipal Yearbook published by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a professional organization for city managers and other top appointed local government administrators/CAOs.