Knowledgebase-Aldermen as Officers under Charter and Personnel Ordinance

Information Product

Title:Aldermen as Officers under Charter and Personnel Ordinance
Summary:MTAS was asked whether aldermen are considered officers for the purpose of applying a provision in the city's personnel ordinance.
Original Author:Huffer, Dennis
Product Create Date:08/29/2006
Last Reviewed on::03/15/2010
Subject:City councilmember; City council; Personnel--Laws and regulations
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion: Aldermen as Officers under Charter and Personnel Ordinance public (2).docAldermen as Officers under Charter and Personnel Ordinance public (2).doc

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: August 29, 2006

RE: Aldermen as officers under charter and personnel ordinance

Dear Mayor:

Your MTAS management consultant has transmitted to me your request for an opinion on whether aldermen in your City are considered officers for the purpose of applying a provision in the city’s personnel ordinance. Although members of a municipality’s governing body would normally be considered officers of the municipality, the ordinance provision in question, by the terms of the ordinance itself, does not apply to popularly elected officers. Therefore it does not apply to the city’s aldermen.

One is correct to assume that in most circumstances aldermen in a city would be considered officers of the city. The City’s charter seems to bear this out. Article I, Section 3 provides:

Officers vested with corporate authority. Be it further enacted, That the corporate authority of said City shall be vested in a City Council consisting of a Mayor and seven Aldermen.

Later, however, the charter uses the word “officers” in a way that clearly does not include the aldermen. Article III, Section 2 provides for the appointment by the city council of certain officers. Then the charter says this:

All officers of the city, except the city attorney, shall devote all their time to their respective offices.

This section goes on to provide that “Any officer may be terminated by a minimum of five (5) votes of the council, including the mayor.” Again, this is not talking about the aldermen. I guess the lesson to be drawn here is that words gather much of their meaning from context. Based on the City’s charter provisions, good arguments can be made that aldermen are considered officers for some purposes and not for others.

The real issue you are asking about, however, seems to be whether Section 13-122 of the Municipal Code regulates the conduct of aldermen. This section provides:

Except for the receipt of such compensation as may be lawfully provided for the performance of his regular duties, it shall be unlawful for any city officer or employee to be privately interested in, or to profit, directly or indirectly, from business dealings with the city, unless a specific officer or employee is approved as an eligible vendor ….

This section is part of Article V of Title 13 of the Municipal Code entitled “Personnel System.” There is no definition of “officer” in the definitions section (Section 13-101) of this article. Section 13-102, however, designates who is covered by the provisions of this article. Subsection (a) creates two (2) classes of personnel: those in the classified service and those in the exempt service. The personnel rules in Article V generally apply to those in the classified service but not to those in the exempt service. Subdivision (1) of Section 13-102(a) provides that “All officials elected by popular vote, and persons appointed to fill vacancies in any such elective offices including those officials elected by the city council” are in the exempt service. Subsection (b) of Section 13-102 provides:

The following sections of this article shall apply only to the classified service unless otherwise specifically provided.

Section 13-122 is one of those following sections. It contains no proviso making it apply to the popularly elected officials, including aldermen, in the exempt service. Therefore the provisions of this section do not apply to aldermen.

I hope this is helpful. If we may be of further assistance, please feel free to call on us.


Dennis Huffer
Legal Consultant

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.