The City of Thorne Bay is a second-class city incorporated August 2, 1982. The City currently operates under a Mayor form of government. The City Council appoints a City Administrator and City Clerk to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the City.
The City Council is comprised of seven members elected to govern the City. The Mayor is selected from the Council by the Council to serve a two-year term (2-yr.). The Mayor presides over the City Council meetings, act as ceremonial head of the city, and sign documents on the city’s behalf upon council authorization or as otherwise authorized by municipal code.
Council members are responsible for management of the city’s affairs and are held answerable to the community they serve.
Title 29 of Alaska Statutes authorizes municipal governing bodies to perform many duties. Some of the more typical duties include the following:
• Adopt a budget and file required reports with the state
• Adopt a code of ordinances and make the code available to the public
• Establish rules of procedure for the council
• Maintain a public record of meetings
• Establish election procedures
• Acquire, manage, control, use, and dispose of real and personal property
•Provide for the levying of taxes
•Establish, alter, or abolish municipal departments
•Provide for fines and penalties
•Prepare a capital improvements program (CIP)
•Exercise eminent domain (that is, condemn private property for a public use)
•Hire, or confirm the hire of, the police chief, clerk, treasurer, and attorney (depending on the language in the local code)
•Establish a personnel system
•Grant, renew, or extend a franchise
•Evaluate the city administration and/or manager (In some cases, the mayor may have this responsibility.)
The city council is entrusted with upholding the public interest. The public interest seeks the maximum benefit to the community at large, rather than to selected groups or individuals. It is different from a “special interest”, which exists when one person or group of persons seeks to benefit from a council action without regard for the larger interests of the community. To achieve the greatest good for the community with each decision, council members must weigh how that decision affects the public interest and the entire community, rather than only on how it affects a particular individual or group.
Alaska Statutes Title 29 identifies the duties and responsibilities of the City Council.
Almost everyone in a small community has an opinion about the council and what it does. Residents often view the council favorably or unfavorably depending on whether or not their own personal needs are addressed or met. So, just what is the council’s role in the community?
The council acts on behalf of all residents to promote the good of the entire community. It is similar to the board of directors of a corporation, except the council’s goal is not to maximize profits to shareholders but to maximize the delivery of services to as many people as possible at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this goal, the council must:
•Manage public funds by planning and budgeting how much money the city will receive and spend.
•Oversee hiring, firing, and evaluating of staff. (The mayor or manager may reserve this authority, but the council must evaluate the mayor and/or manager.)
•Hear citizen complaints and concerns.
•Evaluate projects, proposals, and ideas brought forward by residents, staff, and others.
•Lobby for grants and funds from outside sources and for public support of its proposals.
•Determine the services needed by residents and seek to provide those services.
•Plan for the future and well-being of the community by creating and implementing land use plans, economic development plans, and capital improvement plans.
•Establish policies that provide guidelines for the management and administration of public affairs.