What is a City Administrator? (Overview, Roles, and Responsibilities)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • October 3, 2023

A city administrator, also known as a city manager or city executive, is an appointed professional responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a municipality. City administrators typically report directly to the mayor and city council. 

As times have changed, today it’s common for city administrators to use government meeting software to streamline workflows, increase transparency, and improve efficiency during meetings with the mayor and council.

But what else does a city manager do? From strategic planning to community engagement, city administrators are responsible for a variety of duties and responsibilities. First, let’s understand the definition of a city administrator.

What is a City Administrator?

A city administrator is a professional appointed by the mayor and city council to oversee the day-to-day operations of a municipality. City administrators typically report directly to the mayor and council, providing strategic guidance and implementing policy decisions. They also serve as a liaison between local government and other organizations, including businesses, community groups, nonprofit organizations, and other governments.

Without the city administrator, a mayor and city council would be unable to run the municipality efficiently. That’s because they significantly count on the administrator’s expertise and knowledge to ensure that the city’s operations are effective and efficient. Administrators handle necessary duties like accurately recording and filing the city council meeting minutes, making government meeting software like eScribe a necessity.

But what’s at stake if the city administrator is ineffective? Without administrative excellence, a city can experience poor customer service, inefficient services, wasteful spending and resource allocation, and other issues., 

City Administrator Roles and Responsibilities 

The primary role of a city administrator is to ensure that the municipality’s policies, practices, and operations are aligned with the mayoral office and council’s vision. To achieve this goal, city administrators typically have a broad range of responsibilities. Below is a comprehensive look at some of the most important ones:

1. Strategic Planning

City administrators are responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive plans and policies to help the municipality to achieve its goals. They oversee long-term planning, research, and development of strategies that can help the city meet short-term and long-term objectives. Here are a few of the tasks they may be responsible for:

  • Develop plans to increase economic development and job growth.
  • Create plans to improve public safety, transportation, infrastructure, arts and culture, parks and recreation, housing, and other services.
  • Plan and write a motion for a city council meeting
  • Find ways to reduce costs while improving efficiency.

2. Policy Implementation

City administrators are responsible for properly implementing the mayor and council’s policies. This includes identifying areas for improvement, creating new policies and procedures, ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and monitoring progress. Other policies they may be responsible for implementing include:

  • Develop new ways to use technology to improve service delivery.
  • Develop strategies to address income inequality and poverty.
  • Improve public transportation, affordable housing, and access to healthcare.
  • Work with local businesses on tax incentives and initiatives that benefit the city.

3. Financial Management

The debate of city manager vs. mayor touches on who has the power to manage the city’s finances. Whereas the mayor has the authority to set a budget, city managers are responsible for day-to-day financial operations. This includes developing and implementing budgets, monitoring spending, identifying areas of opportunity, and performing audits. Here are some of their other financial responsibilities:

  • Develop strategies to raise revenue, such as taxes or public/private partnerships.
  • Negotiate contracts with vendors and suppliers.
  • Ensure proper financial reporting and compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Implement cost-saving measures.

4. Personnel Management

City administrators manage the municipality’s human resources, including hiring and firing staff, developing HR policies, and overseeing employee benefits programs. They are also responsible for duties such as:

  • Train new employees.
  • Resolve workplace issues.
  • Handle disciplinary actions. 

5. Community Engagement

City administrators are often the face of the municipality, responsible for building relationships with local businesses, community organizations, and other stakeholders. These duties include:

  • Engage with citizens to understand their needs and concerns.
  • Attend public events and representing the municipality at meetings and conferences.
  • Develop civic education programs to engage citizens in local issues.
  • Provide information to citizens about the municipality’s activities and resources.

eScribe Powers Effective City Council Meetings

Technology plays an increasing role in improving mayoral effectiveness. eScribe Meetings software helps city administrators manage and streamline their day-to-day operations. From running virtual city council meetings to engaging with the public, eScribe enables you to organize and manage the entire process with a click of a few buttons.

Besides its affordable pricing, eScribe’s features are designed to help city administrators, mayors, and deputy mayors streamline their workflows and become more efficient. These include:

  • Meeting Manager: eScribe’s meeting manager makes it easy for city administrators to manage virtual and in-person meetings. The tool helps you set up agendas, assign roles, and keep track of meeting notes. It also helps ensure that the council stays on topic and that important decisions are made promptly.
  • Meeting Minutes: eScribe’s meeting minutes feature allows you to easily capture the details of each council meeting in a secure, organized manner. Meeting minutes can be stored digitally, which makes them easy to access and share whenever needed. eScribe also provides automated reminders to ensure meeting minutes are completed on time.
  • Reporting & Workflows: City administrators can easily use eScribe’s reporting and workflow tools to track their projects’ progress. The software makes it easy to create reports, track deadlines and progress, assign tasks, and share information with other city council members. This ensures that all necessary steps are taken to complete projects on time.
  • Collaboration Tools: eScribe’s collaboration tools enable city administrators to stay connected with their teams, even when they’re working remotely. The software allows you to easily share documents, create surveys and polls, collaborate in real-time, and even host virtual meetings. This puts everyone on the same page and facilitates better communication between all council members.

Overall, eScribe makes it easy for city administrators to streamline their workflow, collaborate efficiently with other council members, and ensure all important decisions are made promptly.

The story of the City of Greensboro demonstrates the positive impact eScribe can have on local governance. The city used the software to improve communication and collaboration, streamline workflow, and achieve greater efficiency in managing civic projects. 

With eScribe, the City of Greensboro was able to get more work done in less time and with fewer resources, saving the city money while also improving their overall effectiveness. Read the case study here.