Update on Municipal Form of Government Survey Now Available

ICMA’s Municipal Form of Government survey has been conducted nine times since 1974.

ARTICLE | Jul 16, 2019
By Rebecca DeSantis, content and engagement coordinator, ICMA
cityscape

ICMA’s Municipal Form of Government survey is the most comprehensive resource available on form of government, provisions for referenda or recall, terms of office, mayoral powers, and other data pertaining to the structure of local government in the United States.

Among survey respondents, the council-manager form of government remains the most popular form of government for medium to large local governments and is concentrated among municipalities in Southwest and Atlantic Coast states.

The gender gap among council members continued to close according to this year’s survey. The percentage of council seats filled by women has steadily increased since 1985, though as of 2018 women still occupy one seat to nearly every three held by men.

Three in four responding local governments have a chief appointed official (CAO), including more than half of mayor-council local governments. According to the results, the CAO position in responding council-manager governments nearly always has the authority to independently develop the budget and make budget recommendations. In non-council-manager governments, the responsibility is delegated to a variety of positions.

A new section of questions on this year's survey covered salary information for elected officials. According to the results, the vast majority of chief elected official positions are part-time and receive an annual salary or stipend.

Other highlights of the 2018 ICMA Municipal Form of Government Survey results include:

  • Full-time mayors are paid an average of $61,723 per year, while part-time mayors are paid an average of $9,286 per year.
  • Recall attempts of the mayor or council members are rare, and they are typically unsuccessful.
  • Less than one-third of local governments do not require council candidates to submit a candidate filing fee. For those that do, the average filing fee is $76.54.

The 2018 edition of ICMA’s Municipal Form of Government Survey was distributed by mail to the clerks of all 12,761 municipal governments in ICMA’s database. The survey was returned by 4,109 respondents for a 32.2% response rate.

ICMA is pleased to provide detailed results of this survey in a recently published survey summary report. Learn more by downloading the report today!

Download Report

Want to learn more about the municipal form of government? Life, Well Run is an ICMA initiative to raise awareness of and appreciation for the value professional managers bring to build ethical, efficient, effective local government and great communities we’re proud to call home.

Check out Life, Well Run

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