Houston has a strong Mayor-Council form of government. The City's elected officials, serving concurrent four year terms, of two terms maximum, are: the Mayor, the City Controller and the 16 members of City Council. The City Charter provides the constitutional framework within which city government operates. The City's Code of Ordinances contains the laws of the City.
The Mayor serves as the Executive Officer of the City. As the City's chief administrator and official representative, the Mayor is responsible for the general management of the City and for seeing that all laws and ordinances are enforced. Administrative duties include the appointments, with Council approval, of department heads and persons serving on advisory boards. As Executive Officer, the Mayor administers oaths and signs all motions, resolutions and ordinances passed by City Council. The Mayor also serves a legislative function, presiding over City Council with voting privileges. The Mayor is responsible for advising Council of the City's financial condition and presents to Council and annual budget for approval.
The City Controller serves as the City's chief financial officer. The Office of the City Controller certifies the availability of funds prior to City Council approval of City commitments, processes and monitors disbursements exceeding one billion dollars annually, invests the City's funds, conducts internal audits of the City's departments and federal grant programs, operates and maintains its financial management system, conducts the sale of public improvement and revenue bonds and produces a comprehensive annual report of City finances (CAFR).
The City Council is the City's legislative body, with the power to enact and enforce all ordinances and resolutions. Eleven Council Members are elected from districts and five are elected at-large, by all voters of the City. The sixteen members of Council, along with the Mayor, act only by ordinance, resolution or motion. They adopt and may alter the annual budget and confirm the Mayor's appointments. Council is responsible for the appropriation and issuance of bonds, the awarding of contracts and the approval of City expenditures over $50,000. Council may lease or dispose of the City's real estate and may levy assessments against property. Council determines its own rules of procedure, and its meetings are open to the public.