What it means to be a City in Indiana
While the words “city” and “town” are used interchangeably in everyday conversation, they have specific legal meaning when applied to Indiana municipal governments (the word “municipality” applies to both cities and towns). The major structural difference between city and town government is the existence of separate executive (mayor) and legislative (council) branches within the city government.
Every city in the state has an elected mayor and an elected common council, except for Indianapolis, they have a 25-member city council. In addition to mayor and elected council, the city of Nappanee also has an elected clerk-treasurer and city judge. Nappanee’s city council has 5 members, one at-large and 4 that represent districts.
The government of cities is divided between the mayor and the common city council. In Indiana, the mayor exercises the executive authority of the city (IC-36-4-4-3) and is primarily concerned with the overall day-to-day operation. The executive authority is often exercised through the board of works, city departments and the head of those departments. The common city council exercises the city legislative authority (IC 36-4-4-4), makes laws that govern the city and appropriates the cities monies.
Cities are authorized to establish any executive department which they consider necessary to “efficiently perform the administrative functions that will fulfill the needs of their citizens” (IC 36-4-9-4). The City of Nappanee includes the following departments:
“The government of cities is divided between the mayor and the common council. In Indiana, the mayor exercises the executive authority of the city (IC 36-4-4-3) and is primarily concerned with the overall day-to-day operation. The executive authority is often exercised through the board of works, city departments and the head of those departments. The common city council exercises the city legislative authority (IC 36-4-4-4), makes laws that govern the city and appropriates the cities monies. The mayor serves for a term of four years, and the office is not subject to term limits (IC 36-3-3-2; IC 36-4-5-2). I person is eligible to serve as mayor if they have resided in the city for one year prior to the election (IC 3-1-8-26). If the mayor ceases to be a resident of the city, they forfeit their position (IC 36-4-5-2).”
“The common is both the city’s legislative body and its fiscal body. Members of the council are part-time elected officials who serve for a term of four years; they are not subject to term limits and may run for re-election as often as they wish. As individual council members, they do not possess significant statutory powers. As the city’s legislative body, however, the council exercises many of the powers given cities through the passage of ordinances and appropriation of monies (IC 36-4-6-18)
The council fixes the annual compensation of all elected officials of the city, which may not be changed in the year for which they are fixed, or reduced below the previous year’s level (IC 36-4-7-2). The council also establishes the annual compensation of members of the city’s police and fire departments (IC 36-8-3-3). It has authority to reduce but not to increase, any other items in the city budget as submitted by the mayor for its approval (IC 36-4-7-7). A council member must have been a resident of the district from which he or she is elected, if any, for at least six months before election, and must have been a resident of the city for at least six months before election, and must have been a resident of the city for at least one year before the election (IC 3-8-1-27). If the council member ceases to be a resident of the city or a resident of the district from which they are elected, they forfeit his or her office (IC 36-4-6-2).”
The primary function of the elected clerk-treasurer, a four-year elected official, is to serve as the fiscal officer of the city of Nappanee. The Clerk-Treasurer receives and cares for all city money and disburse monies on the order of the city council; keep financial accounts identifying the sources from which funds have been received and to whom payments of town funds have been made; prescribe payroll and account forms for all city offices; prescribe the manner in which creditors, officers, and employees shall be paid; manage the finances and accounts of the town and make investments of town money; prepare the budget estimates of miscellaneous revenue, financial statements, and the proposed tax rate for the city council; maintain custody of the town seal and the records of the city council; issue all licenses and collect the fees fixed by ordinance; serve as the clerk of the legislative body by attending its meetings and recording its proceedings; administer oaths, take depositions and serve as a notary without a fee and; serve as the clerk of the town court, if the judge of the town court does not serve as the clerk or appoint a clerk of the court (IC 36-5-6-5; IC 3-35-3-2).