Kenai became incorporated as a first-class city in May, 1960. Through adoption of a charter, Kenai became a home rule municipality in 1963. As such, Kenai has "all legislative powers not prohibited by law or charter" according to Article X, Section 11 - Constitution of Alaska. The Kenai City Charter provides for the governing structure, functions and services, and restrictions on municipal powers in accordance with the conditions, needs, and desires of the community. Alaska Statute 29.10.200 - Limitation of Home Rule Powers, defines provisions of the State Municipal Code that apply specifically to home rule municipalities.
Pursuant to Kenai Municipal Code, the City operates as a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council consists of one mayor and six council members, elected at large. Council may exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or City Charter and have all powers delegated to it by the City Charter and by law. The City Manager is appointed by the City Council and oversees the day-to-day affairs of the City.