City Government Structure

As local government becomes increasingly complex, local officials must understand the duties and responsibilities of their offices.  The purpose of this page is to assist in learning the statutory duties and responsibilities of the elected leaders.


Arkansas municipalities are divided into three (3) classes based on population. A.C.A §§ 14-37-102 & 103.

Once a municipality reaches a population of 500, it is classi ed as a city of the second class, and once
a municipality reaches a population of 2,500, it is classified as a city of the first class. However, there are exceptions to these classi cation criteria. If the council of a town with less than 500 population wishes to become a city of the second class, it may do so by submitting an ordinance to the voters, and if the voters approve, the town becomes a city of the second class. Further, any city with of a population of 1,500 or more may, by enactment of an ordinance, become a city of the rst class. A.C.A. § 14-37-103. Arkansas law also allows for cities with certain populations to reduce their classi cation. A.C.A. §§ 14-37-111 and 14-37-114.

The Duties of the Mayor

All mayors are encouraged to become familiar with their duties and responsibilities by reading the sections concerning the powers of the mayor in the current Handbook. e purpose of this Guidebook is to give a summary and overview of the duties of mayor.

The Duties of the Mayor in the Mayor-Council Form of Government

The principal officer of all Arkansas cities and towns within the mayor/council form of government is the mayor. By virtue of this position, the mayor is ex-o cio president of the council. It is the mayor’s respon- sibility to keep the city government running properly. is includes enforcing city ordinances and making sure that the residents receive maximum bene ts and services for the taxes that they pay.

Legislative Duties of the Mayor

  • In all municipalities in Arkansas, the mayor presides over the meetings of the council in cities and towns with the mayor/council form of government.

  • The mayor may vote when the mayor’s vote is needed to pass any ordinance, bylaw, resolution or motion. A.C.A. §§ 14-43-501; 14-44-107; 14-45-105. Mayors in cities of the rst and second class have a vote to establish a quorum. A.C.A. §§ 14-43-501; 14-44-107.

  • After the passage of an ordinance setting the procedure for special council meetings, the mayor has the authority to call the council into session for a special meeting. A.C.A. § 14-43-502.

  • The mayor is required to sign all ordinances, resolutions and city council minutes. A.C.A. § 14-55-205.

  • If provided by council rules, the mayor may introduce ordinances and resolutions and recommend policy.

  • The mayor in cities and towns with the mayor/council form of government may veto any ordinance, resolution or order adopted by the council. Councils may override the veto by two-thirds vote of the total membership of the council. A.C.A. §§ 14-43-504; 14-44-107; 14-45-105.

  • The vote to override should occur at the next regular council meeting. A.C.A. §§ 14-43-504; 14-44- 107; 14-45-105.

Class of City


Referred to As


2,500 or more

City of the First Class



City of the Second Class


499 or fewer

Incorporated Town

Administrative Duties of the Mayor

  • Mayors of cities and towns with the mayor/council form of government are required to prepare and submit a budget to the city council for approval on or before December 1 of each year (See Chapter V).

  • All mayors of cities of the rst class must submit to the city council within the rst 90 days of each year a complete report on the nancial and administrative activities of the city. is is commonly referred to as the State of the City Report. A.C.A. § 14-58-302.

  • Thee mayor shall also “keep the governing body advised as to the nancial condition and future needs of the city and make such recommendations as to him or her may be desirable.” A.C.A. § 14-58-302.

  • The mayor oversees the day-to-day activities of the city and supervises department heads.

    The Mayor’s Duties of Appointment, Nomination and Removal
    Mayors in cities or towns with the mayor/council form of government have the power to appoint and remove all department heads, including police and re chiefs, unless the city or town council votes to override the mayor’s action by a two-thirds majority of all council members. In cities with a civil service commission, the council may, by ordinance, delegate the authority to appoint and remove the police or re chief to the city’s civil service commission. e mayor may not appoint or remove department heads that are not under the control of the governing body of the city. A.C.A. § 14-42-110.
    Mayors may also appoint or nominate:
    • A building o cial (A.C.A. § 14-56-202(b)).
    • A board of library trustees (
    A.C.A. § 13-2-502 [with city council approval]).
    • A director of a department of public safety (
    A.C.A. § 14-42-421).
    • A health o cer, when the position has been created by ordinance (
    A.C.A. § 14-262-103).
    • An airport commission (with council approval) (
    A.C.A. § 14-359-105).
    • A parks and recreation commission (
    A.C.A. § 14-269-202 [with council con rmation] and 14-269-302 [with council confirmation]).
    • A marshal in some second class cities (
    A.C.A. § 14-44-111).
    • An at-large member of an Advertising and Promotion Commission (with council approval) (A.C.A.
    § 26-75-605).

Duties of the Council Members
City council members are officers and offcials of their city. The city council:

    •   Enacts ordinances and bylaws concerning municipal a airs that are consistent with state law in 
order to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the public. A.C.A. §§ 14-55-102; 14-43-602.
  • Has the management and control of the city nances and all real and personal property belonging to the city. A.C.A. § 14-43-502.

  • Adopts a budget by ordinance or resolution for operation of the city or town by February 1 of each year. A.C.A. § 14-58-202.

  • Sets the procedures by ordinance for making purchases that do not exceed the sum of $20,000 in cities of the rst class, except as provided in A.C.A. § 14-58-104. Councils in second class cities and in towns may set procedures for making purchases, except as provided in section 14-58-104. A.C.A. § 14-58-303(b).

  • Sets the time and place for regular city council meetings (A.C.A. § 14-43-501). All meetings should be open to the public in accord with the state Freedom of Information Act. A.C.A. § 25-19-106.

  • May override the mayor’s appointment and removal of department heads by a two-thirds vote of the total membership. A.C.A. § 14-42-110

  •  May override the mayor’s veto by a two-thirds vote. A.C.A. §§ 14-43-504; 14-44-107; 14-45-105.

  •  Calls for a special election in cities of the rest class to ll the vacancy of the unexpired mayor’s term office, if the unexpired term is for more than one (1) year. A.C.A. § 14-43-401(b).

  •  May ll, by appointment in cities of the rest class, the vacancy to the Office of mayor if the expired term is less than one (1) year. A.C.A. § 14-43-401(b)(1).

  • In a city of the second class or an incorporated town the city council shall ll a vacancy in the mayor’s of- ce for the unexpired term by either a majority vote of the council members or a special election. A.C.A. §§ 14-44-106; 14-45-103).
  • Sets the salaries of the mayor, council and other municipal officials. Salaries of officials may be increased, but not decreased, during the term of office, except that the o cial receiving the salary may request a decrease. A.C.A. § 14-42-113.

  • Either establishes a city re department or, by ordinance, enters into a contract or interlocal agree- ment for city re protection with an existing re department certi ed by the Arkansas Fire Protec- tion Services Board. e council may promulgate rules to govern a city re department. A.C.A. § 14-53-101.

  • Establishes a city police department and organizes it under the general superintendence of the mayor. A.C.A. § 14-52-101. Directs by ordinance the number of subordinate number of o cers to be appointed. A.C.A. § 14-52-201.

  • Sets the rates for city utilities and establishes fees for city services.

  • Enacts ordinances establishing sales taxes and referring same to the voters.

  • Takes actions leading to annexation of territory to the city.

  • Establishes and certs es to the county clerk the amount of property taxes to be levied within the city or town prior to the regular meeting of the quorum court in November or December of each year. A.C.A. §§ 26-73-202; 14-14-904.

  • May establish (and abolish) various commissions to manage and operate such services as parks, utilities, an airport, advertising and promotion, planning and others, as provided by state law.

Mayor/Council Diagram Arkansas



The information contained in this book is not intended as legal advice for any speci c case. Readers are responsible for consulting with legal counsel when questions arise concerning the application of the law to a particular set of facts. is book is intended solely for educational and informational purposes.