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Government

​​​​City of Bellingham Mission

Support safe, satisfying and prosperous community life by providing the citizens of Bellingham with quality, cost-effective services that meet today’s needs and form a strong foundation for the future.

Services provided by the City

The City provides a full range of municipal services that include public safety, culture and recreation activities, economic development, street and multi-modal transportation infrastructure, parking, utilities, and general administrative services. Activities owned and/or operated by the City include water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities; municipal parking facilities; Lake Padden Golf Course; Bayview Cemetery; Whatcom Museum of History and Art; Bellingham Public Library and Fairhaven Branch Library; nearly 100 parks; a civic stadium; athletic fields; and the Arne Hannah Aquatic Center. The City operates Medic One to provide countywide emergency medical services under an agreement with Whatcom County.

Organizational structure

The City's charter establishes a council-mayor form of government. City management is led by the elected Mayor in a strong-Mayor, weak-Council form of government. A voter approved charter amendment took effect January 2008, which changed the Finance Director from an elected position to one appointed by the mayor and subject to confirmation by the City Council. State statute provides for an elected Municipal Court Judge.

Six council members are elected by wards and serve four-year terms. Three are elected every two years. The seventh council member is elected every two years in an at-large capacity. The Mayor is elected for a four-year term. A Municipal Court Judge is elected for a four-year term at the mid-point of the Mayor’s term of office.

The administrative department heads are appointed by and serve at the Mayor’s discretion, with the following exceptions: The City Attorney and Finance Director require approval of the City Council for appointment or removal, and the Library Director is appointed by the Library Board. The City of Bellingham is structured into departments, which may be further divided into operating divisions. Each department or division is broken down into its functional units or groups. The City also administers the Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District.

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