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What Does a Town Manager Do?

A town manager oversees the daily operations of a town, ensuring smooth functioning of public services. They liaise between the town council and the community, implementing policies, managing budgets, and addressing public concerns. But how does one become a town manager? What qualifications are needed?
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A town manager is an executive who oversees the day-to-day operations of a town's government. He or she is likely to work closely with the town's mayor and the town council. This is usually not an elected position; a qualified person is instead hired to perform the job duties, and he or she will adhere to laws or regulations outlined by the mayor and town council. Budget and personnel responsibilities usually fall to the town manager, as he or she is primarily responsible for drawing up the town's budget for approval by the mayor or town council.

Firing and hiring within various departments of the town's government may also be the responsibility of the town manager. Several other middle managers may address such issues before they get to the town manager, but most personnel decisions must be approved by the highest manager before they become final. All decisions made by this manager are usually done with the interest or policies of the mayor or town council in mind; political concerns are not part of the town manager's job, so decisions must be made impartially and without partisan concerns in mind.

A town manager acts as a liaison between elected officials and the public.
A town manager acts as a liaison between elected officials and the public.

The town's budget is drawn up by the manager, and he or she has the responsibility of managing that budget once it has been approved. This means ensuring all funds are spent properly and any government programs operate within the stated budget. If a program or sector is working over-budget, the manager must address the problem and rectify it to ensure money is not spent where it should not be spent.

While the town manager is not a policy-making position, he or she may have input regarding policies that are being considered for implementation. As the direct overseer of staff that will be responsible for carrying out laws and policies, the manager may make recommendations to the mayor or council to help them govern more effectively. The job of the manager will ultimately revolve around the decisions made by the mayor or council; however, regardless of the manager's input into any policy-making decisions.

Interactions with the general public of the town are also a primary responsibility of the town manager. He or she must investigate citizen complaints, consult with citizens to find out what problems may exist in town and how to address them effectively, and act as a liaison between the town's government and its people. He or she may also have the responsibility of ensuring the public is apprised of the government's actions as they relate to the day-to-day operations of the town as well.

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    • A town manager acts as a liaison between elected officials and the public.
      By: Africa Studio
      A town manager acts as a liaison between elected officials and the public.