Q May a city operating under the mayor-council form of government establish a “Finance and Procurement Department” and have the Chief Administrative Officer also serve as the Director of Public Works?

A Section 21-8-23(1) allows municipalities to have “[A] department of administration and such other departments as the council may establish by ordinance.” Accordingly, the city council may establish a “Finance and Procurement Department” by adopting a duly passed ordinance. The authority of the city council over a municipal department is limited to the initial establishment of the municipal department. Once the department is established, administration of said department would fall under the jurisdiction of the mayor, who is the chief executive officer of the municipality. In Section 21-3-25(2), which applies to code charter municiaplities rather than mayor-council municipalities, the legislature specifically authorized a chief administrative officer to hold other appointive positions in the municipality. No similar language can be found in Section 21-8-17, which is the statute governing mayor-council municipalities. Thus, the lack of similar language between the code charter statute and the mayor-council statute renders a chief administrative officer in a mayor-council form of government unable to serve simultaneously as the Director of Public Works and Chief Administrative Officer. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Pope, June 8, 2018)