Q Under the mayor-council form of government, can members of the city council mandate their participation in contract negotiations conducted by the mayor and city departments?

A No. Members of the city council cannot mandate their participation in contract negotiations conducted by the mayor and city departments. A mandate of this nature would violate the constitutional separation of powers doctrine. Members of the city council are in the legislative department of government and exercise core powers. The mayor exercises the executive powers of the municipality and has “superintending control of all the officers and affairs of the municipality….” However, each department is entitled to engage in such actions, within the purview of their respective authority, without encroachment or interference by members of the other department. The city council exercises its authority, not by individual member, but by a vote of the council in a legally called meeting. Any participation by council members in contract negotiations being conducted by the mayor and employees under the mayor’s supervision would be within the sole discretion of the mayor.
However, the mayor does not have the ultimate authority to bind the municipality to a contract. That authority lies with the city council, subject to the veto power of the mayor. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Teeuwissen, dated January 27, 2012)