Skip to page body Home About Janesville City Government Departments & Services Residents Businesses Visitors I Want To…

Since 1923, Janesville has had a continuous council-manager form of government, longer than any other city in Wisconsin. You may be unaware of the rich history of this form of government, which was created in 1915 during the Progressive Era in American politics. At the time, the council-manager system was seen as "good government" - a reaction against the inefficient and corrupt government systems of the time.

Council-manager government is structured so that responsibility and authority is shared equally among Councilmembers who govern as a group to promote representative democracy. The Janesville City Council has seven members, who are elected on a nonpartisan basis and represent the city as a whole. Councilmembers serve two-year, overlapping terms and are nonsalaried. In other systems of government, members may be elected by district, may receive a salary, or have a mayor more powerful than the other councilmembers.

Based upon their own studies and investigations and the advice and recommendations of the city manager and his staff, the council makes basic, long range policy decisions for the city. Wisconsin Statutes establish the council's power to enact new city laws, amend present laws, and repeal existing ones. By State Constitution, municipalities may create laws not in conflict with Federal Laws or State Statutes. The Code of General Ordinances, which contains all the laws of the city, is updated semiannually. A council policy manual identifies policies of the council not covered by Ordinances. These documents are available for review in the Clerk's office and Hedberg Library. The council also adopts the city's annual budget; has control over the acquisition and sale of city property; and issues various licenses.

The council appoints a professionally trained city manager as chief executive officer, responsible for management of the city administration and service delivery to the community. The manager is accountable to the council as a whole, and serves at its pleasure. A city manager has a commitment to public service and often has an education in public or municipal administration. In contrast, council members are part time volunteers from many different walks of life and may be lifelong community residents.

The City Council's Role

Based upon their own studies and investigations and the advice and recommendations of the City Manager and his staff, the Council makes basic, long range policy decisions for the City. Wisconsin Statutes establish the Council's power to enact new city laws, amend present laws, and repeal existing ones. By State Constitution, municipalities may create laws not in conflict with Federal Laws or State Statutes. The Code of General Ordinances, which contains all the laws of the city, is updated when the City Council adopts a new or revised ordinance. A Council Policy Manual identifies policies of the Council not covered by ordinances. These documents are available for review in the Clerk's Office and Hedberg Public Library. The Council also adopts the City's annual budget; has control over the acquisition and sale of City property; and issues various licenses.

Janesville's Manager

The Council appoints a professionally trained city manager as chief executive officer responsible for management of the city administration and service delivery to the community. Wisconsin Statutes state that the City Manager is the chief executive of the city government and is responsible to the City Council for its administration. The Manager appoints City employees and supervises all City divisions and departments; signs official contracts and documents; submits the annual budget; and is the City's spokesman.  A city manager has a commitment to public service and often has an education in public or municipal administration. In contrast, councilmembers are part-time volunteers from many different walks of life and may be lifelong community residents.

Last updated: 10/5/2011 11:02:45 AM