Like state and federal government, city government is organized to balance the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. City Council is the legislative branch, which derives authority from a charter granted by the State of Texas; the city manager is the chief executive officer; and the Municipal Courts judge the guilt or innocence of those accused of breaking city laws and determine punishment for those who are guilty.
The City Council and the mayor establish policy through the adoption of ordinances. The six council positions are elected by district to two-year terms and the mayor is elected at large to a two-year term. Council positions are eligible to serve up to three two-year terms. The City Council appoints the city manager and five other positions: city secretary, city auditor, city attorney, tax collector (currently outsourced to Galveston County), and Municipal Court judge.
The city manager is responsible for administering all city functions: employment of personnel; development, presentation, and administration of the city budget; and implementation of City Council's policies.