Semmes Local Government Watchlist
Powers of Appointment
Section 11-43-81, Code of Alabama 1975, states that the mayor has the power to appoint all officers whose appointment is not otherwise provided for by law. The Attorney General of Alabama has ruled that if the council has exercised its powers to appoint officers of the city or town by passing an ordinance, then the appointment would be “otherwise provided for by law,” thus removing the mayor’s power to make appointments. AGO to Hon. John W. Maples, April 17, 1957. See also, AGO 1995-315 and 1997-166.
Further, a council may adopt an ordinance giving the council exclusive authority to appoint a chief of police, all police officers and a superintendent of utilities. However, as CEO of the municipality, the mayor’s power to oversee the daily activities of city officials cannot be removed by the council. AGO to Hon. A. J. Cooper, Jr., May 6, 1977. This same opinion provides that the council cannot by motion, resolution or ordinance require the mayor to give written work orders whenever he or she instructs a city employee to perform a task nor may the council require employees and department heads to answer directly to the council for their actions and to receive their instructions at least in part directly from the council.
Where the Code of Alabama specifies that the council has exclusive appointing power, such as over the municipal clerk, the council cannot delegate its appointing power. If an appointment is left to the discretion of the council, then the council may delegate its authority by a properly-drafted ordinance.
If the Code is silent as to who makes an appointment, then the mayor has the authority unless the council has provided differently in a properly-drafted ordinance. In cities of less than 12,000 in population, the mayor is a member of the council and may vote on appointments made by the council.
In all municipalities, the council may provide for a tax assessor, tax collector, chief of police and a chief of the fire department. The council also has the duty to specifically designate the duties of each office. Section 11-43-5, Code of Alabama 1975. In municipalities of less than 6,000 in population, the council must elect a clerk and may determine by ordinance the other officers of the city or town. Section 11-43-4, Code of Alabama 1975.
The council has the duty to establish the salary of all officers and employees whose compensation is not fixed by law. Sections 11-43-7 and 11-43-8, Code of Alabama 1975. The council must fix by ordinance the terms of service of the officers of the municipality whose terms are not otherwise prescribed by law. Section 11-43-6, Code of Alabama 1975. And the council must prescribe, by ordinance, the powers to be exercised and the duties to be performed by officers appointed or elected, unless otherwise provided by law. Section 11-43-47, Code of Alabama 1975.
The council is authorized to establish a police force under the general supervision of a police chief. Section 11-43-55, Code of Alabama 1975.
The council is authorized to appoint the city attorney. AGO 1990-173.
Additionally, members of municipal boards must be appointed by the mayor or council, pursuant to the statutory authority under which the board was created. See, AGO 1998-077.
Talk Of Semmes wishes to thank The Alabama League of Municipalities for permission to publish their material.
Copyright Alabama League Of Municipalites
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