The City of Manistee was incorporated in 1869 and is the county seat of Manistee County. The City of Manistee operates under state and federal laws, the City Charter, local ordinances and various adopted policies. The Manistee City Council is the legislative and governing body of the city. The council determines policy for the city including establishing ordinances and goals and objectives designed to meet the needs of Manistee’s citizens. 

The City Council receives advice and recommendations from a variety of citizen boards and commissions. All operational items for the city are handled by the city administration. Policies established by the City Council are carried out by the city manager. The city manager directs the department heads of the city. The city administration is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city.