City Manager vs. Mayor: What’s the Difference?

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • July 19, 2023

In many cities, the roles of mayor and city manager have overlapping duties. While both roles are important in a municipality and work together to ensure the city runs smoothly, they differ in key ways. 

This blog post outlines the key differences between a city manager and a mayor, highlighting their roles and responsibilities, as well as their salaries. It also discusses how software solutions for local governments improve meeting effectiveness.

What is a City Manager?

A city manager is an appointed professional who is responsible for overseeing the city government’s day-to-day operations. They are appointed by the mayor or city council and are often experienced in public administration.

The role of the city manager is an important one and requires a person with specific skills and expertise. To be successful, city managers must possess a deep knowledge of city government and operations, as well as a strong understanding of the community’s needs and objectives. They must also have excellent communication and leadership skills.

City Manager Roles and Responsibilities

The primary role of a city manager is to ensure the city runs efficiently, effectively, and in line with the city’s goals and objectives. This includes overseeing the budget, staffing, and operations and providing guidance and advice to the mayor and city council. They also play a key role in the development of policies and procedures, as well as in the implementation of initiatives and programs.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations, city managers are also responsible for long-term planning and development. This includes developing strategies for economic growth, creating job opportunities, and improving the overall quality of life for citizens. They are also responsible for promoting various types of civic engagement and forming partnerships between the city and local businesses.

Finally, city managers serve as a liaison between the city government and the public. They are responsible for communicating city policies, programs, and initiatives to the public, as well as gathering feedback from citizens.

City Manager Salary

The annual mean salary for a city manager is about $101,890, according to Salaries can vary widely depending on the city’s size and the responsibilities of the manager. 

For example, a city manager in a larger city with more responsibilities may earn more than a city manager in a smaller city. Furthermore, a city manager with more experience and qualifications will usually be able to command a higher salary. 

In addition to a salary, many city managers also receive several benefits, such as health insurance, vacation and sick leave, and retirement benefits. Some may also receive bonuses or other incentives based on their performance.  


What is a Mayor?

A mayor is an elected official who is responsible for the overall management and governance of a municipality. In most cases, the mayor serves as the official head of the municipal government and is responsible for representing the municipality at public events, leading the council and committees, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of government.

Mayor Roles and Responsibilities

The mayor’s roles and responsibilities vary from city to city. Generally, the mayor is responsible for: 

  • Leading city council and standing committee meetings
  • Managing the day-to-day operations of the city
  • Administering the budget and preparing the city’s annual budget
  • Developing and implementing policies for the city
  • Appointing citizens to serve on boards and committees
  • Encouraging economic development
  • Developing and maintaining city infrastructure
  • Ensuring public safety
  • Building and maintaining relationships with other local, state, and federal governments

The mayor is also responsible for representing the interests of the city’s citizens in several ways. This includes attending public meetings, responding to constituent inquiries, and representing the city at regional and national events. 

Mayor Salary

On average, a mayor earns $86,288 annually.

Several factors influence the salary of a mayor in the United States, including the population size, budget size, economic stability, and political environment. Understanding these factors can help cities determine a fair and appropriate salary for their mayors.

Getting Started With eScribe

Technology is an indispensable part of planning for the future and can be a powerful tool for city managers and mayors. By leveraging technology, these professionals can access and analyze data quickly, engage with the public more effectively, and streamline their workflows to make faster and more informed decisions. 

eScribe offers an innovative software solution that makes it easier and more efficient for government officials to organize and manage their meetings. With eScribe, city officials can quickly and easily plan and manage meetings, set agendas, send out reminders, and even generate reports.

Some of the benefits of meeting software include:

Automate Meeting Scheduling

Automates the process of scheduling council meetings, which saves time and prevents scheduling conflicts. This helps ensure that all participants are available for the city council meeting and that the meeting can take place at the most convenient time.

Track Attendance and Minutes

Tracks attendance and minutes so all participants can stay informed about the meeting’s progress. This ensures everyone is on the same page and no one is left out of the loop.

Streamline Communication

Streamlines communication between participants, allowing them to share documents, notes, and ideas easily. This makes it easier to collaborate and helps keep meetings on track.

Record Meetings

Records meetings, which allows participants to review what was discussed at a later date. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and that nothing important was missed.

Track Action Items

Tracks action items so everyone knows what tasks need to be completed after the meeting. This prevents confusion and helps ensure that goals are met.

By using meeting management software, organizations can improve meeting effectiveness and ensure that the time spent in meetings is productive. This saves time, money, and resources, so mayors and city managers can focus on what matters most — serving their community.

eScribe in action: Download the City of Greensboro Case Study to learn how eScribe helped the city save time and money while streamlining processes and reducing stress.