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Jan 26

Municipal Blueprint

Posted on January 26, 2024 at 1:11 PM by Public Affairs

Municipal Blueprint

A Closer Look at Farmington's Local Governance

Photo of Farmington City Hall building



How familiar are you with your municipality? 


Do you know the City of Farmington's form of government and structure? What about its various departments and responsibilities?


The inner workings of your city government play a pivotal role in shaping Farmington's future. 


Some may argue that local government is the most important because decisions made at the municipal level greatly affect the quality of life. It’s also the level of government everyday citizens have the most control over.


That’s why it’s important to understand how your municipality operates.


From managing public services to implementing local ordinances, your City government is here to create a safe and vibrant environment for you to live, work, play, and retire.


We’re breaking down the City of Farmington’s blueprint in this article. 


Keep reading to learn about its structure, department roles, and how to engage in the civic process.

Farmington’s Form of Government

Municipalities can have various forms of government. The structure often depends on local laws and regulations.

5 Common forms of municipal government include:

  • Mayor-Council: This form of government has an elected mayor and a city council. The mayor may have executive powers, and the council serves a legislative role.

  • Council-Manager: Under this form of government, city council appoints a city manager to oversee the municipality’s daily operations.  The council retains legislative powers.

  • Commission: The city is governed by a commission, with each commissioner responsible for a specific area or department.

  • Town Meeting: Residents gather periodically to make decisions on local issues. This form is more common in smaller municipalities.

  • Representative Town Meeting: Similar to the town meeting, but residents elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf.


Farmington operates under a council-manager form of government. This structure ensures a balance of power and accountability within the City.

Farmington's legislative body includes four city councilors and one mayor, all of whom are elected by residents. 


The councilors represent the four districts within Farmington and vote on a wide range of matters. The mayor votes only to break a tie among city council.  


The city manager is the municipality's chief executive officer and strategic advisor to the mayor and council. He's responsible for implementing the council's policies and directives and ensuring the City functions effectively and efficiently. The city manager appoints and supervises all City department heads and is responsible for presenting an annual budget to the city council for their consideration and adoption.

Key Decision-Making Processes within City of Farmington Government

The decision-making processes within Farmington's city government are designed to be inclusive and transparent. When major decisions need to be made, such as implementing new ordinances or approving large-scale projects, the City may host public input meetings.


These meetings allow citizens to voice their opinions, ask questions, and contribute to the decision-making process. Citizens may also voice their concerns during city council meetings or contact their city councilor directly. 


If you want to be involved on a higher level, consider serving on a City board, commission, or committee.


These bodies are comprised of volunteers from the community. They provide valuable input and recommendations to the city council on specific issues. 

How ordinances are created under a council-manager form of government

Ordinances provide a framework of laws and regulations that govern various aspects of community life.


Ordinances are created when someone identifies an area that needs regulation or improvement. This can be initiated by city council members, the city manager, or community members who voice their concerns. 


An ordinance can be temporary or permanent. If permanent, it’s codified and indexed in municipal code


Once an area is identified as needing regulation or improvement, it’s researched to determine the best course of action. This may involve studying existing codes from other municipalities, consulting with experts, and seeking public input through hearings or surveys.


When the research is complete, a proposed ordinance is drafted with careful consideration of legal requirements, community needs, and potential impacts on various stakeholders. 


Advisors and the City’s Legal Department then review the code to ensure it’s compliant with state and federal laws. 


Once the draft ordinance is finalized, it’s presented to the city council for review and discussion. Council members can suggest amendments or revisions based on their constituents' feedback or expertise. 


Finally, the council votes to adopt the ordinance. Once adopted, it becomes a legally enforceable document to guide the actions and behaviors of Farmington residents, visitors, businesses, and organizations.


Regular reviews and updates are conducted to ensure ordinances remain relevant and responsive to changing circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities of City of Farmington Departments

The City of Farmington has 10+ departments and numerous divisions within those departments, each with its own set of roles and responsibilities.


These departments work collaboratively to provide essential and quality-of-life services to residents and visitors and maintain the city's overall functioning. 


Here are highlights of some of the City’s departments.


Administrative Services

The Administrative Services Department manages budgeting, finance, purchasing, and central and electric utility warehousing operations.


This department also partners with the Marketing and Public Relations Division to create the annual Citizen’s Financial Report. The report is published in calendar form and available on the City’s website


You can grab a printed version at Farmington City Hall.  


Community Works

The Community Works Department manages and maintains essential infrastructure and services contributing to Farmington's overall well-being and functionality. 


Without Community Works, Farmington wouldn't have safe roads to drive on, clean drinking water, sidewalks, or streetlights. 


Community Works also oversees the Building Inspection. This division ensures residential and commercial structures are built or modified for safe occupancy.


Farmington Electric Utility System

Farmington Electric Utility System provides power to 46,000 customers throughout San Juan County and a portion of Rio Arriba County. 


FEUS is a public power utility, meaning it's community-owned, locally controlled, and operates on a not-for-profit basis. 


Public power utilities provide several benefits to customers, including lower rates and fewer outages. Customers of private utilities lose power for an average of 150 minutes a year. Private utility customers, however, only lose power for an average of 62 million minutes per year. 


Farmington Fire Department

The Farmington Fire Department has six fire stations throughout the city, including one at Four Corners Regional Airport. FFD's specialty teams include WildlandHazMat, and Tech Rescue.  


The fire department also operates the Alternative Response Unit. Staffed by EMTs, the ARU responds to inebriated subject calls and provides safe transportation to the sobering center. 


Fun fact: Farmington Fire Department has an Insurance Services Office rating of 2. Insurance companies use the ISO rating to calculate your premium. 


FFD is in the top 2% of all municipalities in New Mexico, which is excellent!


Farmington Police Department

Farmington Police Department is an internationally accredited law enforcement agency. The department has 10+ sworn and non-sworn, or civilian, divisions and specialty units.


FPD is a member of the San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Authority. The CJTA is a multiagency law enforcement training academy in Farmington.


In addition to police operations, FPD hosts several community programs to increase safety awareness and understanding of law enforcement. These programs include Women with InsightCitizens' Police AcademyCommunity Learning/High School Seniors ProjectsInternshipsVolunteering, and Public Safety Cadets, formerly the Explorers Program.


Legal Department

The City of Farmington's Legal Department handles a variety of legal tasks. These tasks include prosecuting misdemeanor offenses in Municipal Court, representing the City in civil suits, providing contract reviews and legal opinions, and drafting local ordinances. 


The department's claim manager reviews and processes liability claims against the City. The Legal Department doesn't provide legal advice to private citizens or entities. 


ORII 

It's no secret to locals that Farmington is Nature's Playground. We have a plethora of natural amenities outdoor enthusiasts love. But it wasn't until recently that Farmington was viewed as Nature's Proving Ground, and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative was born.


ORII is a key component of Farmington's ongoing community transformation and economic development. It aims to grow the emerging $9.9 billion outdoor recreation industry in New Mexico and diversify our local economy from its reliance on oil and gas.


ORII partners with regional entities like San Juan County, Four Corners Economic Development, Farmington Chamber of Commerce, and San Juan College to encourage and support new outdoor recreation businesses and attract existing OR businesses to relocate or expand to our area. 


Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs

Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs is the second largest department in the City. With 17 facilities, 25 athletic fields, and over 50 parks and open spaces, PRCA has recreational opportunities for people of all ages, abilities, and interests.


The Bonnie Dallas Senior Center, Farmington Indian Center, and the Sycamore Park Community Center are a few of the many facilities that operate under the PRCA. 


The department also hosts annual community events like the Road Apple Rally, Boo-Palooza, Four Corners Balloon Rally, and more. 


To see all the PRCA has to offer, visit their website HERE.


Marketing and Public Relations Division

Without the Marketing and Public Relations Division, how would anyone know anything about the City?  


Our mighty little team of four works to keep the community informed about City matters. The division does this through various platforms, including social media, radio, and print publications.


We recently added a monthly newsletter to our communication arsenal. It's been a hit, garnering favorable responses! You can subscribe here to get our newsletter delivered to your inbox.


The division also added a bimonthly blog for in-depth information, like the one you're reading.

Ways to Get Involved in Farmington Government

As a Farmington resident, you have the power to actively participate in local government and contribute to the betterment of your community. 


Here are some of the ways you can engage in the civic process:


  1. Attend city council meetings. If you can’t make it in person, watch the live stream or recording on our website

  2. Join a City of Farmington advisory board, commission, or committee. There are over 10 to choose from.  

  3. Contact your city councilor. Your elected leaders are available to hear your ideas and concerns. 

  4. Run for an elected position. District 2 City Council is currently open. 

  5. Volunteer for community initiatives. The Mayor’s Volunteer Partners maintains a list of volunteer opportunities.


Remember, citizen engagement is an integral part of the local government process.


City staff and elected officials are working hard to maintain essential services and quality of life. But we need caring and dedicated people like you to help make Farmington the best place to live, work, play, and retire. 


For more information about your municipality and ways to get involved, visit the City of Farmington’s website.