Hays has a commission-manager form of government which was adopted by the City in 1919, the third city in the state to operate under this plan. In 1966, the city switched from a three to a five-person commission. The commission hires the city manager who appoints the various department heads and other city employees. The commission is a policy-making body, which enacts city ordinances.
The city manager advises the commissioners and is responsible for enforcing their policies. The city manager also is responsible for preparing a proposed budget for the commissioners. The mayor presides over commission meetings and represents the city at ceremonial events. The commission members are elected at-large with an election held every two years.