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The City of Albemarle operates under the Council-Manager form of government. This form of government is designed to separate politics from the administration of the day to day business. The City of Albemarle has operated under the Council-Manager form since the mid-1960’s when the first City Manager was hired. Albemarle has had four City Managers since moving to the Council-Manager system: Wilson Coleman, Jack F. Neel, Raymond I. Allen, and current City Manager Michael J. Ferris

A City Manager is a non-political position and is typically filled by someone who is educated and trained in the efficient management and operation of a local government organization. The City Manager works at the pleasure of the City Council and is responsible for the day to day operation of the City, including budget preparation and administration as well as being ultimately responsible for the all City personnel. The City Council’s responsibility is to set policy and laws for the City as well as provide for the long-term direction of the City. They do this through the adoption of an annual budget, capital improvement program, other visioning statements and plans, as well as through the setting of policies. Ultimately, the Council-Manager form of government is designed to provide professional day to day oversight and operation of the City by a trained professional, just like in any other business. The policy and the administration are separated to provide clear and distinct roles to allow for the democratic process of governance to continue, while removing politics from daily operations.

Today, the Council-Manager form of government is the most prevalent form of local government in the United States. This form of government is also widely used throughout the world in countries such as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and many others.