The City of Iowa City was founded in 1839 and incorporated on April 6, 1853. The home rule charter of the City was adopted by the voters of the City on Nov. 15, 1973. The City is governed by a seven-member Council; each member serves a four-year term. Elections are held every two years allowing for continuation in office of at least three members at each biennial election. The Council members are elected at large, with three members nominated from specific districts and the remaining four members nominated at large. Districts are used in the primaries only. The Council elects the Mayor from its own members for a two-year term.
The City Council is the legislative body and makes all policy determinations for the City through the enactment of ordinances and resolutions. It also adopts a budget to determine how the City will obtain and spend its funds. The Council appoints members of boards, commissions and committees.
The City Manager is the chief administrative officer for the City and is appointed by the City Council. The City Manager implements policy decisions of the City Council and enforces City ordinances. In addition, the City Manager appoints and directly supervises the directors of the City’s operating departments and supervises the administration of the City’s personnel system.
The City Clerk is appointed by the City Council and reports to the Council. The City Clerk's Office administers the City government's documentation, City licenses and permits, and provides information from the Municipal Code and City Ordinances to the public and other City departments. The City Clerk’s Office is also responsible for distributing and maintaining accurate records of all City Council proceedings.
The City Attorney is also appointed by the City Council and works at the direction of the City Council. The City Attorney supervises the City Attorney's Office, including four Assistant City Attorneys and two other full-time employees. In addition, the City Attorney acts as Chief Legal Counsel to the City Council, City Manager, the various City departments and staff, and most City commissions, committees and boards.
The City provides a full range of services including police and fire protection, construction and maintenance of roads, streets and infrastructure, inspection and licensing functions, a municipal airport, library, recreational activities and cultural events. The City owns and operates its water supply and distribution system and sewage collection and treatment system with secondary treatment also provided. Virtually the entire City has separate storm and sanitary sewer systems. The City operates a municipal off-street and on-street parking system in the downtown area. The City also operates a transit system.