City Manager's Blog

Feb 23

[ARCHIVED] Modesto Civics 101: The Charter Officers

The original item was published from February 23, 2021 11:49 AM to March 4, 2021 9:32 AM

For many of us, the last time we took a civics course was in the 1900’s, and much of that course probably focused on the three branches of the federal government—not the checks and balances within local city government. This four-part series focuses on how Modesto’s government is organized, with this week’s focus on the Charter Officers.

Modesto runs on a Council-Manager type of government under the City Charter. The Charter has four officers that are directly appointed by the City Council: the City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Clerk, and the City Auditor. These Charter Officers report directly to the Mayor and Council and are responsible for the effective and efficient administration of their offices.

The Council adopts a written Statement of Policy for each Charter Officer. These Statements set forth the broad goals, objectives, and aspirations to be accomplished. Each Officer makes a plan to address these goals specifically during their time in the position, with a review every two years.

The City Manager is essentially the City’s CEO or Chief Executive Officer. The City Manager is responsible to the Council for administrating all City affairs properly. Two examples of that include drafting the annual budget and hiring new employees. By carrying out the Council’s guidelines and policy objectives, the City Manager ensures spending is allocated correctly and that personnel are productive and efficient.

The City Attorney provides legal services to the City by representing the City and Council in proceedings, providing legal advice, and preparing legal documents like ordinances. The City Attorney also attends Council meetings.

The City Clerk records information for the City. The City Clerk attends Council meetings and records all actions, keeps ordinances and resolutions, administers oaths of office, and is in charge of elections involving the City.

The City Auditor conducts annual audits of City fiscal transactions and accounts. Council may assign performance audits, used to determine if a department is managing its resources well and in an economic manner.

All four of these Charter Officers work together to meet the needs of our community through sound financial management, adequate reporting, and high standards of ethical conduct. The result is a local government that promotes well-being and safety by putting its residents first. See how this makes for a better Modesto in our final blog post next week.