Originating in Staunton, Virginia in 1908, the city manager form of government was created to remove city government from the power of the political parties, and place management of the city into the hands of an outside expert who was usually a business manager or engineer, with the hope that the city manager would remain neutral to city politics.
- Supervision of day-to-day operations of all city departments and staff, directly and through department heads;
- Oversight of all hiring, firing, disciplining and suspensions;
- Preparation, monitoring, and execution of the city budget, which includes submitting each year to the council a proposed budget package with options and recommendations for its consideration and possible approval;
- Main technical advisor to the council on overall governmental operations;
- Public relations, such as meeting with citizens, citizen groups, businesses, and other stakeholders (the presence of a mayor may alter this function somewhat);
- Operating the city with a professional understanding of how all city functions operate together to their best effect;
- Attends all council meetings, but does not have any voting rights
- Additional duties that may be assigned by the council
Typically, modern city managers have specific qualifications. Most have a Master's in Public Administration or Business Administration. A 2012 survey found that the average city manager is male, Caucasian, aged 51-60, has a Master's degree, serves for slightly longer than seven years and makes just shy of $111,000 per year.