The City of Russell, which is the county seat of Russell County, was incorporated in 1872. Russell is a city of the second class and is the largest city in the county with a population of 4280 as of July 2006. City government is a Mayor-Council-Manager form consisting of a Mayor elected at large, and eight Council members elected from four wards within the City, and a City Manager. Russell is located approximately 60 miles west of Salina, 35 miles north of Great Bend, and 25 miles east of Hays. The City has excellent transportation facilities provided by. Highway 40, 281 and Interstate 70. Rail service is provided by Union Pacific Railroads, and the City maintains a modern airport with a 5,500 ft. concrete surfaced and lighted runway, taxiway and parking apron. The City owns and operates an electric generating and distribution system for a fifty square mile area, water transmission, distribution and treatment systems and sanitary sewer distribution and treatment system, approximately 48 miles of paved streets, a library, the Deines Cultural Center and 160 acres of city parks, which includes the Municipal Golf Course. The economy of Russell and Russell County is primarily agriculture with some wheat gluten and ethanol manufacturing facilities in the Industrial Park. Russell County is one of the leading counties in the production of oil in the state of Kansas.
Russell operates under the Council/Mayor/Manager form of government, a system that combines political leadership of elected officials with strong managerial experience of a professional City Manager. In this form of government, Council members are the leaders and policy makers elected to represent the citizens and concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens' needs and wishes. The Manager is hired by the City Council to carry out policies and ensure that the entire City is being served. If the Manager is not responsive to the City Council's wishes, the Council has the authority to terminate the Manager at any time.
The Mayor presides at Council meetings, serves as spokesperson for the community, as an ambassador and defender of the community, and as a representative in intergovernmental relations. Together, the Mayor, Council and Manager form a policy development and management team.
The City Manager is hired to serve the Council and the community and brings the benefits of education, training and experience in administering local government projects and programs. The Manager prepares a budget for the Council's consideration; recruits, hires, disciplines, and supervises all of the organization's employees; serves as the Council's chief adviser and carries out the Council's policies. Council members and citizens count on the Manager to provide complete and objective information, pros and cons of alternatives and long term consequences of decisions and policies. Similarly, the Manager relies on his staff to provide professional and well-reasoned information and recommendations, and the highest level of quality public service possible.