How the City Works
- Horseshoe Bay is a “Home Rule City”
- Horseshoe Bay uses the “council-manager” form of government
- The City Council’s policy-making role
- The Council/city manager/staff relationship
- The Horseshoe Bay Charter
In Texas there are two kinds of cities: Home Rule cities and general law cities. As of 2015, of the 1,217 cities in the state, 351 including Horseshoe Bay, are Home Rule.
But what is a Home Rule City? Home Rule cities are cities with populations of more than 5,000 in which citizens have adopted home rule charters. A city charter is a document that establishes the city’s governmental structure and provides for the distribution of powers and duties among the various branches of government. In order to be implemented, the charter must be approved by the people at an election. Likewise, changes in the charter must be approved by a vote of the people.
The legal position of home rule cities is the reverse of general law cities. Rather than looking to state law to determine what they may do, as general law cities must, home rule cities look to the state constitution and state statutes to determine what they may not do. Thus, if a proposed home rule city action has not been prohibited or pre-empted by the state, the city generally can proceed.
(some of this information is from the Texas Municipal League website)
Horseshoe Bay operates under the ‘council-manager’ form of government, meaning that the Council appoints the City Manager, who is then responsible for the administrative and staff-appointment duties. The Council also appoints the City Attorney, City Secretary, Fire Chief and Police Chief and makes appointments to City boards and commissions. But, contrary to the strong-mayor form of government, the day-to-day operations of the City are under the authority of the City Manager.
The City Council consists of six members, including the Mayor, elected by the voters of the City to staggered terms of two years each. Members receive no compensation. Usually, the City Council meets regularly on the third Tuesday of each month, and may call additional special meetings.
The City Council develops broad, policy priorities which are updated regularly. Each priority contains a range of specific programs, projects, policies, or processes which the City Manager, Department Directors, and staff use in developing the actual detailed work programs for the various City departments. In short, the Council develops policy, and the City Manager and staff implement those policies on a day-to-day basis.
In addition to the regular public Council meeting every month, the City Manager meets weekly with the Mayor, and also has meetings with other members of the Council individually or as part of ad hoc or standing committees, on an as-needed basis. Through these meetings and other contact with Council members, the City Manager is able to distill their policy direction into action for the City.
The City Manager manages the Department Directors, who in turn supervise the employees within that department. Horseshoe Bay enjoys a flexible and de-centralized work environment which allows people to make decisions at every level of the organization. This provides the ability to react quickly to changing circumstances, to revise our priorities as needed, and to best address our constituents’ needs.
The City Manager meets weekly with Department Directors, and individually on an as-needed basis. The purpose of these meetings is to provide direction and guidance to the Directors in carrying out the policies of the Council.