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Government > Form of Government

Form of Government

As per our Topsail Beach Town Charter Section 15:  The Town shall be under the council-manager form of government, as provided by part 2 of article 7 of chapter 160A of the General Statutes.

Roles and Responsibilities (synopsis)  


  • Presides at board meetings
  • Calls special meetings
  • Votes to break a tie
  • May veto ordinances
  • (not motions or resolutions)
  • Other powers that may be conferred by the Board of Commissioners


  • Govern and oversee the management of the town
  • Decide organization of municipal givernment
  • Confer power to the mayor and employees
  • Appoint Town Manager and Attorney to serve at its pleasure
  • May override mayoral veto with 3/4 majority vote

Town Manager

  • Hire and fire all employees and supervise all department
  • Uphold town and state laws and regulations
  • Prepare and submit annual budget
  • Report on finances and administrative activities
  • Perform other duties required by the Board of Commissioners


Form of Government FAQs

What is the Town of Topsail Beach’s council-manager form of government?

The council-manager form is a system of local government that combines the strong political leadership of elected officials in the form of a governing body (Board of Commissioners & Mayor), with the strong managerial experience of an appointed local government manager (Town Manager). Our form of council-manager government establishes a representative system where all power is concentrated in the elected Board of Commissioners unless specifically granted otherwise by the Board or Charter to the Mayor. The Board of Commissioners is responsible for hiring a professionally trained Town Manager to oversee the delivery of public services. In our council-manager form of government, the Board of Commissioners are the leaders and decision makers elected to make policy decisions, however both the Mayor and Board of Commissioners were elected to represent various segments of the community and to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens' needs and wishes. The Town Manager is appointed by the Board of Commissioners to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. If the Town Manager is not responsive to the Board of Commissioner’s wishes, the Board of Commissioners has authority to terminate the Town Manager at any time. In that sense, a Town Manager's responsiveness is tested daily.

What is the Town Manager's function?

The Town Manager is hired to serve the Board of Commissioners and the community and to bring to the local government the benefits of training and experience in administering local government projects and programs on behalf of the governing body. The Town Manager prepares a budget for the Board of Commissioner’s consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government's staff; serves as the Board of Commissioner’s and Mayor’s chief adviser; and carries out the Board of Commissioner’s policies. Board members and citizens count on the Town Manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives, and long-term consequences.

What is the role of the Mayor?

Mayors in council-manager communities are key political leaders and policy developers. With respect to the Board of Commissioners, the Mayor is jointly responsible for soliciting citizen views in forming these policies and interpreting the Town’s policies to the public. The Mayor presides at all Board of Commissioners meetings, serves as a spokesperson for the community, facilitates communication and understanding between elected and appointed officials, assists the Board of Commissioners in setting goals and advocating the Board of Commissioners policy decisions, and serves as a promoter and defender of the community. The Mayor is responsible for governing the Board of Commissioners by "Roberts' Rules of Order” or as otherwise provided by the Town Charter through the “Board of Commissioners Rules and Order”. In addition, the Mayor serves as a key representative in intergovernmental relations. The Mayor, Board of Commissioners, and Town Manager constitute a policy-development and management team. In our form of council-manager government, the Mayor has the right to veto any ordinance of any nature enacted by the Board of Commissioners. Any ordinance which has been vetoed by the Mayor may nevertheless be enacted by the Board of Commissioners at any regular or special meeting within ninety (90) days of the date of the exercise of the veto by a three-fourths (3/4) majority vote. The Mayor has the right to vote only to break ties when the Board of Commissioners have voted with equal number of votes in the affirmative and in the negative.

What is the Board of Commissioner’s role?

The Board of Commissioners is the legislative body; its members are the community's decision makers. Power is centralized in the elected Board of Commissioners, which approves the budget and determines the tax rate, for example. The Board of Commissioners also focuses on the community's goals, major projects, and such long-term considerations as community growth, land use development, capital improvement plans, capital financing, and strategic planning. The Board of Commissioners hires a professional Town Manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervises the Town Manager's performance. No Commissioner who has been counted as present for any official meeting may be excused from voting except as otherwise prescribed by the Town Charter Section 8 or by North Carolina general statute #160A-75.

Does the Town Manager participate in determining Town Policy?

The Town Manager makes policy recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, but the Board of Commissioners may or may not adopt them and may modify the recommendations. The Town Manager is bound by whatever action the Board of Commissioners takes.

* The content above is based on information obtained from the International City/County Management Association, UNC School of Government-Essentials of Municipal Government and the Town of Topsail Beach Charter.