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The City of Laguna Woods is a “general law city” with a “Council-Manager” form of local government, meaning that it operates within the parameters of California municipal law with an elected City Council that is responsible for legislative and policy functions. The City Council appoints and supervises a professional City Manager who is charged with the “day-to-day” responsibility of managing the City and implementing City Council laws and policy. The City Council also appoints a City Attorney to serve as the City’s legal counsel. The five members of the City Council are residents of Laguna Woods who are elected at-large by registered voters to four-year terms. Elections are held in even-numbered years with two and then three members of the City Council elected at subsequent elections. The City Council appoints a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, annually, from amongst its membership, to preside over City Council meetings, execute certain legal instruments and authorizations, and attend to various ceremonial matters.

The City has eight and nine-twentieths full-time equivalent employees who are responsible for delivering a full range of municipal services. The City operates as a “contract city,” meaning that its small staff leverage the resources of a variety of contract, franchise, and joint powers agencies to provide efficient, effective, and economical services. If the City were a “full service city,” those services would be provided by City employees, often at higher costs and with considerably greater liability. While contract service providers may charge the City for current year liabilities, the City’s contract service arrangements do not result in the assumption of any other agency’s long-term retirement or other post-employment benefit liabilities.