Know before you go: Voters to cast ballots on strong-mayor referendum

Columbia residents will go to the polls once again today, this time to determine how the city will be governed. At stake is the management and direction of the city’s affairs as well as the role the mayor will assume under the form of government.

The ballot question:

Shall the municipality of the City of Columbia change its form of government from Council-Manager form to Mayor-Council form?

Residents will decide whether to keep the current form of government — council-manager — or change it to the mayor-council form, more commonly referred to as the strong-mayor form of government.

Under council-manager, the council and mayor have legislative authority. The city manager, appointed by council, manages the daily affairs of the city including executing the budget  and hiring and firing city employees.

Under a strong mayor, the council and mayor retain legislative powers, but the mayor also is given administrative authority. The position of city manager is eliminated, though the council could hire a city administrator to assist the mayor. The mayor executes the budget and controls employment decisions for all city workers.

Various precincts across the county will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday. For more information about the election, including where to vote, go to the City of Columbia’s election page.