In accordance with the Home Rule Charter (Charter), which was passed in 1942 (and amended periodically since that time), Ecorse uses a "weak mayor" / "strong council" form of government. The mayor, which is a part-time position, is elected at large once every two years and is a functioning Council member. The mayor presides over bi-weekly Council meetings. The remaining six Council members, which are also part-time positions, are elected at large every two years. The election for mayor and council positions occur concurrently. The Mayor and Council were compensated and received certain fringe benefits (workers' compensation and Social Security taxes).
While a strong council form of government without a strong mayor is often accompanied by a city manager, no such position was reflected in Ecorse's Charter. Rather, the City Controller effectively functioned as the city manager. In addition to the city manager role, the City Controller was also responsible for: accounting; grants, risk and contract management; facilities management; investment management; and other tasks as directed by the Mayor and Council. Purchasing was performed by a full-time Purchasing Director and payroll preparation was performed by the Treasurer's Office.
In addition to the Mayor and City Council, the City Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor and Judge were also elected at large every two years. Their responsibilities follow:
Clerk – maintenance of Council minutes, permanent records, collection of certain fees, and maintenance of election data.
Treasurer – with the exception of cash associated with the 26th District Court cash: collection of property taxes and other cash receipts, cash disbursements, and maintenance of property tax records.
Assessor – assessment of real and personal property, preparation of property tax invoices, and coordination with the annual Board of Review and Wayne County Equalization Department.
Court Judge – the 26th District Court responsibilities were discussed previously.
There were two other legal entities related to Ecorse:
City of Ecorse Building Authority – provided operations and debt service associated with Ecorse's municipal office center. Annual rentals of $140,000 were paid to the Authority which funded the outstanding general obligation debt service. The Authority also provided certain operations and maintenance of the municipal office center which was reimbursed by Ecorse's General Fund. A separate debt service millage of approximately 1.00 mills was levied beginning in the 1986 fiscal year.
City of Ecorse Housing Commission – The Housing Commission, which is a low-income housing project, generally operated autonomously from Ecorse. In years prior to the receivership, the payroll and fringe benefits (as Housing commission employees were considered to be part of Ecorse, they received a fringe benefit package similar to other employees) were processed through Ecorse's payroll system and were subsequently invoiced to the Housing Commission. At times, this federally-subsidized project was delinquent in payroll and fringe benefit reimbursements by as much as several years after the employees were paid. In February, 1987, Ecorse stopped processing the Housing Commission payrolls as the Receiver chose to stop financing their operations.
In addition to the municipal office center, which housed the administrative, police and fire services, Ecorse operated a library, ice arena, Department of Public Works' facility, two senior citizen centers, health clinic, and a community center. Ecorse operated the only Secretary of State office using city employees in the entire State of Michigan. The library was operated through the Wayne Oakland Library Federation which invoiced Ecorse based upon operating costs incurred. The remaining facilities were operated with Ecorse personnel. The senior citizen and community centers also drew from the residents for volunteers as deemed necessary.