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About Your City Government

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Founded - May 31, 1921
Charter adopted - Jan. 7, 1947

The City of Torrance is a charter city and operates under a city council-city manager form of government. Under this system, the people elect the City Council, which is the legislative body, consisting of a mayor and six council members.

The City Council is the policy-making body of the City. It passes laws, makes policy decisions, adopts the budget, authorizes expenditures, levies taxes and secures revenues.

The City Council meets Tuesday evenings. Because of the volume of business conducted by the Council a regular order of business, called an agenda is followed. The agenda is prepared Thursday, and is delivered to the Mayor and Councilmembers to permit them time to study matters to be considered at the next meeting. By law, the agenda is posted 72 hours prior to a meeting on the City Clerk's Notice Board at City Hall.

Anyone wishing to be heard at a Council meeting is requested to give a name and address for the record before addressing the Council. Any person who wishes to speak on a matter not included on the agenda may be heard when the Mayor asks for oral communications following the regular order of business. The Council may not take action at this time but may direct or refer the matter to appropriate staff.

Certain proceedings that involve people personally and directly require public hearings to be held. In each case, the law prescribes the manner in which the hearing is to be conducted. A hearing is designed to protect citizens' interests by permitting them to voice their approval or disapproval. It is the Council's duty to hear and weigh the testimony before taking action on an issue.

Actions of the Council take the form of ordinances, resolutions and motion.

An ordinance is the legislative enactment of City law. It requires two readings at separate Council meetings. At least five days must intervene between the introduction and the final passage of an ordinance. It becomes a law 30 days after passage. Certain circumstances permit passage of an emergency ordinance, which becomes effective immediately. An ordinance can be repealed only by another ordinance.

Policy of the Council and/or certain types of administrative action is expressed by passage of a resolution. It requires only one reading by the Council and may be changed by a subsequent resolution.

A motion is an informal official action by the Council. It is a brief indication of majority approval.

When the Council is not prepared to take definite action or when further study is needed, the council may refer a matter to a committee, commission, department head or the administrative staff for study and a later report.

The action minutes, an unofficial record, are prepared by the City Clerk to allow staff and the public a timely look at Council proceedings. Official minutes of Council meetings are taken by a recording secretary and give a written record of all Council actions.

Councilmembers are elected at-large to four-year overlapping terms at municipal elections held in March of even-numbered years. Councilmembers have a two-term limit.

The Mayor is elected every four years and has all the powers and duties of a Councilmember. He also presides at Council meetings, represents the City at ceremonial occasions, signs warrants, contracts, conveyances entered into by the City and other official documents. The Mayor also has a two-term limit.

Other elected officials are the City Clerk and the City Treasurer.

The City Clerk is Clerk of the Council and keeper of the City Seal and is responsible for the safekeeping of the official records. The Clerk accepts claims, administers oaths, conducts municipal elections, maintains the Municipal Code, attests all City documents, and prepares and publicly posts agendas for City Council meetings.

The City Treasurer is responsible for receiving and depositing all monies coming to the City. In addition, the treasurer is responsible for the investment of idle funds.

The City Council appoints a City Manager to administer policies, enforce ordinances, and prepare the annual budget. The responsibilities include the general management of the City's affairs. All the City's operations are coordinated by the City Manager into a unified and effective program for public service.

A City Attorney is also appointed by the Council to advise them and other City officials on legal questions, to prepare ordinances, and to represent the City in any legal action.

City of Torrance Organizational Structure

The City Council has established citizen's commissions, composed of City of Torrance residents, to act as advisory and recommending bodies. They meet at designated times each month to discuss problems related to their specific areas of interest. They include the Airport, Civil Service, Cultural Arts, Environmental and Energy Conservation, Community Services, Library, Parks & Recreation, Planning, Traffic and Water Commissions as well as the Youth Council, Disaster Council and the Commission on Aging.

All interested persons are welcome to attend City Council and/or Commission meetings and to voice opinions.