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    The Commission-Manager Plan

    The Commission-Manager form of government was adopted by Grand Rapids voters in 1916. Since then, the political leadership of elected officials has been effectively combined with the managerial experience of a City Manager. Because the City Commission is a legislative body, its members are the community's policy-makers. The Manager is hired by the Commission to serve as the City's chief administrator.


    The Mayor

    The Mayor is the official head of the City and presides at meetings of the City Commission, but has no veto power over the Commission's decisions. This person is elected "at large," or by the entire City, to a four-year term, and represents the City in official functions by signing agreements approved by the City Commission, appointing most advisory committees, and working with other governmental agencies and civic groups. The Mayor's office is located on the sixth floor of City Hall.

    The City Commission

    This legislative body consists of the Mayor and six Commissioners. The Commissioners are all elected by wards, two from each of the City's three wards. The Commissioners serve four-year overlapping terms. Every two years, the community elects one commissioner from each ward. The City Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, and at 2 p.m. on each of the other Tuesdays in the City Commission Chambers on the ninth floor of City Hall. Time is provided at these meetings for citizens to address the Commission about their concerns.

    Much of the work of the City Commission is done during the business sessions of its standing committees. Each standing committee has three Commissioners, except for the Committee of the Whole, which includes all the Commissioners, and is presided over by the Mayor.

    The committees all have different tasks. The Committee on Appointments recommends candidates for appointment to City boards and commissions; the Fiscal Committee acts on financial matters, the Community Development Committee is responsible for issues concerning public improvements; the Public Safety Committee recommends actions and receives updates on matters of Public Safety; and the Committee of the Whole considers major issues and agreements. At all of these meetings, Commissioners discuss, debate, and receive staff and community input before taking action in their public sessions.

    In addition to attending these formal meetings, City Commissioners spend many hours as members of various other boards and committees, and meeting with both individual citizens and neighborhood groups.

    City Comptroller

    As the only elected department director, this person is responsible for ensuring that the fiscal policies mandated by the City Commission are followed. The Comptroller monitors the budget with respect to sources and use of funds, as well as compliance with all applicable laws. This individual reports to the City Commission, and supervises production of the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the City of Grand Rapids.



    City Manager

    This individual is the chief administrator of the City. The Manager coordinates all City departments, and executes the policies and programs of the City Commission. The City Manager is supported by Assistant City Managers, each representing a group of departments and their related services.

    City Attorney

    In addition to providing legal counsel to the City Commission and to City departments, this office is responsible for all court actions and legal proceedings in which the City is involved, including prosecution for City misdemeanor violations.

    City Clerk

    Official records of the City, voter registration records, supervision of all elections, and business licensing, are the responsibility of the City Clerk.

    City Treasurer

    This appointed official advises the City Commission about certain financial matters, and administers the City's investment transactions. The office of the City Treasurer also collects City, County, and school district taxes on real estate and personal property within the City, and collects fees for City services.



    The Grand Rapids City Seal was designed and engraved by Aaron Turner, the City Clerk in 1850. The motto, "Motu Viget," means "strength in activity." Officially adopted by the City Council on June 25, 1850, the seal depicts a hand reaching down from the clouds holding the scales of justice. Centered on the seal is the American Eagle protected by a shield. At the eagle's feet are the points of arrows.

    The Grand Rapids City logo was designed by Joe Kinnebrew, a Grand Rapids native. It was officially adopted in March of 1982. The three-color logo incorporates the sun in yellow, the Calder stabile in red, and the Grand River in blue. The logo is used to provide a uniform symbol of the City of Grand Rapids, and enables the public to recognize City services and programs.