What Is City Maintenance?

January 11, 2022

What Is City Maintenance?

City maintenance includes activities undertaken to keep public facilities—buildings, spaces, roadways, statues—in optimally functioning condition. Tax-payer money finances routine maintenance, repairs, and cleaning of public properties. 


Government municipalities are required to engage in preventive maintenance (PM) for the safety, health, and enjoyment of their residents. Most city maintenance schedules involve caring for public buildings, facilities, and parks. 

Public works departments are responsible for cleaning city streets, repairing potholes, and beautifying outdoor spaces (e.g. trimming grass, pruning trees, and removing weeds). In addition to keeping residents happy, cities prioritize maintenance to varying degrees to attract investors and grow economically.

While some municipalities still rely on spreadsheets and hardcopy work orders, others are adopting technology for city maintenance. For example, the city of Naperville implemented a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) within its Department of Public Utilities–Water to streamline maintenance for public assets, as written about in this case study

Examples of City Maintenance

Did you know that Portland is the cleanest major metropolitan city in the United States of America? That’s according to a 2020 Reader’s Digest study that analyzed the air quality, water quality, and sanitation in the country’s 50 largest cities. 

Though tasks may vary substantially by region, most municipalities prioritize the same basic activities. Keeping with Portland, as an example, the city categorizes maintenance work orders into the following categories on its site:


  • Pothole and Sinkhole Repair
  • Sewer Cleaning and Repair


  • Tree and Shrub Trimming
  • Roadside Vegetation


  • Streetlights
  • Sign Pole Lights
  • Signs and Markings
  • Signals


  • PBOT Bridge Management System
  • Bridge Inventory, Condition and Needs Synopsis

Additionally, workers ensure that electrical systems in public buildings such as the post office and county courthouse are functional. Benches, signs, bathrooms, fire department vehicles, and other assets also need to be in working order. 

Types of City Maintenance Workers

City maintenance workers aren’t any different from general maintenance workers in terms of skill sets. The only difference may be in terms of leadership hierarchy. Traditionally speaking, organizations may employ maintenance workers, assistant maintenance workers, senior maintenance workers, and maintenance supervisors. The roles are most often divided into three categories: 

  • Building Maintenance Workers: These workers attend to city facilities. They repair exterior structures, clean shared spaces such as public restrooms, and keep public utilities in good working order.
  • Public Works Maintenance Workers: They are in charge of public roads, city drainage, and signage. Public maintenance workers usually perform heavy manual labor using heavy-duty machinery.
  • Grounds Maintenance Workers: Besides maintaining public parks, grounds maintenance workers perform landscaping tasks. In certain cities, these types of workers are only hired seasonally.

City Maintenance Certifications and Training

Fun fact: Santa Rosa, California, is the best-paying city for maintenance workers. The top 10 percent of maintenance workers in California earn an average of $60,000 per year. Nationally, the lowest-paid, U.S. maintenance workers earn about $25,000 per year with an average median salary of $37,630. It’s advisable for city maintenance workers to pursue certifications for skill enhancement and career advancement. Some of the most common training and certifications for city maintenance workers include:

  • Certified Maintenance Technician: The International Maintenance Institute offers this certification. It includes both coursework and exams at three levels. The certificate is valid for two years and maintenance workers need to prove professional growth to be awarded the certificate.
  • American Public Works Association Certifications: The American Public Works Association (APWA) offers several certifications targeted at public works maintenance workers. These include certified stormwater manager, public fleet professional, and certified public infrastructure inspector.


City governments plan their maintenance activities so public assets are safe, reliable, and enjoyable for residents. Additionally, well-maintained cities are more likely to prosper, thrive, and attract desirable businesses. The best way to streamline maintenance tasks, and optimize maintenance O&M budgets, is through the use of CMMS platforms.

Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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