How is Burien Governed?

Burien is governed under a council-manager form of government.

The council-manager form consists of an elected city council which is responsible for policy making, and a professional city manager, appointed by the council, who is responsible for administration. The city manager provides policy advice, directs the daily operations of city government, handles personnel functions (including the power to appoint and remove employees), and is responsible for preparing the city budget.

Under the council-manager statutes, the city council is prohibited from interfering with the manager's administration. The city manager, however, is directly accountable to and can be removed by a majority vote of the council at any time. 

The mayor in council-manager cities is generally selected by the city council. The person selected must also be a councilmember. In optional municipal code cities or first class cities, the mayor may be directly elected by the people. The mayor presides at council meetings and is recognized as the head of the city for ceremonial purposes, but has no regular administrative duties.

Citizen Advisory Boards

Citizen advisory boards engage citizens in the democratic process. Made up of volunteers, their primary purpose is to provide advice from a citizen perspective to the City Council. The activities of an advisory board may include the study of critical issues, taking public testimony, performing independent research, and reviewing staff reports and recommendations. These prepare the advisory body to discuss, analyze, formulate, and forward well-developed, thoughtful recommendations to the City Council.

The City of Burien has five citizen advisory boards:

  • Arts Commission
  • Business and Economic Development Partnership
  • Human Services Commission
  • Parks & Recreation Board
  • Planning Commission

Special Purpose Districts

In Washington, special purpose districts are limited purpose local governments separate from a city, town, or county government. Generally they perform a single function, though some perform a limited number of functions. They provide an array of services and facilities including electricity, fire protection, flood control, health, housing, irrigation, parks and recreation, library, water-sewer service, and more recently stadiums, convention centers, and entertainment facilities that are not otherwise available from city or county governments.

Special Purpose Districts within Burien