Types of Local Government


Cities without administrators have essentially two options. They can remain under Chapter 62 of the Wisconsin State Statutes and establish the position of administrator by local ordinance or they can choose to operate under Chapter 64 with a city manager.

Administrator Option

Cities remaining under Chapter 62 can establish the position of administrator by charter ordinance (two-thirds vote) or by simple ordinance. The duties of the administrator can be tailored to fit the particular needs of the city, although there are certain responsibilities that should be included in all ordinances, especially in the areas of personnel and budgeting. The position of the mayor remains, except that responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the city is transferred to the administrator.

Council-Manager Option

Cities adopting the council-manager form of government under Chapter 64 must do so by charter ordinance. Chapter 64 describes the major responsibilities of the manager and the council. It makes no reference to a mayor and the president of the council is the highest elected official (although the city may designate the council president to carry the title of mayor). Chapter 64 makes a clear distinction between the administrative role of the manager and the legislative role of the council. The manager is hired and can be dismissed by the council by majority vote.

A Comparison

The council-manager form has the advantages of a clear separation of administrative and legislative responsibility and of being statutorily recognized. The administrator form has the advantages of retaining the position of mayor and of being more flexible with regard to specific community needs.


Villages have similar options. They can remain under Chapter 61 and establish the administrator position by simple or charter ordinance or they can establish the manager position by adopting Chapter 64 by charter ordinance. The main difference between villages and cities is that the position of village president remains essentially the same, no matter whether an administrator or a manager position is established.


Towns may establish the position of town administrator according to the terms of Chapter 60.37 (3). Towns may share an administrator.

More Information

For more information, please fill out our contact form or contact WCMA Executive Director Dawn Peters at: contact@wcma-wi.org or 815-753-0923.