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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

General Law City Manager-Commission Charter

Reference Number: MTAS-331
Reviewed Date: 12/20/2021

The city manager-commission charter (T.C.A. §§ 6-18-101 et seq.) provides for a council-manager government similar to the model city government charter recommended by the National Civic League.

A city operating under this charter has a number of options when structuring its governing body. Small cities may have three or five commissioners. Cities with more than 5,000 residents elect five commissioners for staggered four-year terms. A city with a population of more than 20,000 may increase the number of commissioners from five to seven by ordinance, which is subject to referendum approval. T.C.A. § 6-20-101. Elections may be at-large or from single-member districts. The commissioners may appoint one of their members as mayor, or the citizenry may elect the mayor to a four-year term.

The charter may be adopted by any newly incorporating or existing city.

The commission appoints a city judge if the judge is not exercising concurrent jurisdiction with general sessions court. The commissioners appoint a city manager who serves at their pleasure, and he or she may be removed only for cause during the first year of employment. The manager is responsible for purchasing, financial affairs, administration, presenting a proposed budget to the commission, selecting and appointing all department heads other than the city judge, and seeing that all city laws and ordinances are enforced. T.C.A. §§ 6-18-101, et seq.