Attorney General Jeff Landry has released official opinions for municipal leaders in New Iberia, Church Point and Crowley regarding issues involving casting a tiebreaker vote for a city council, declaring a state of emergency and revoking police commissions.
New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt requested an opinion from the attorney general’s office regarding his vote at a recent city council meeting, which he made as a tiebreaker when the council members voted on the confirmation of the appointment of a city prosecutor.
Landry stated that the New Iberia Home Rule Charter states that the mayor is authorized to vote on an item if the vote of the council ends in a tie.
Landry issued an opinion for Ryan Meche, the mayor of the Town of Church Point, that states that the mayor may not act alone to pull police commissions. The opinion came at the request of Meche regarding the authority to issue and revoke police commissions between a mayor and an elected police chief.
Church Point is a Lawrason Act municipality, which gives the mayor the authority to direct and supervise all municipal departments with the exception of a police department with an elected police chief.
A Lawrason Act municipality with an elected police chief has general responsibility for law enforcement in that municipality and requires an elected police chief to make recommendations to the mayor and board of aldermen in order to appoint, dismiss, promote or discipline law enforcement personnel.
Crowley Police Chief Jimmy Broussard requested an opinion from the attorney general’s office about the authority of a mayor to declare a state of emergency without consulting with or getting approval from the city council.
Broussard also asked if a mayor can force an elected official to cut an adopted budget in order to use those resources during a state of emergency.
Crowley is also a Lawrason Act municipality, which designates the mayor as the chief executive officer of the municipality.
According to the opinion, the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance Disaster Act contains requirements that a mayor must adhere to following a declaration of a state of emergency that also gives a mayor full authority to make a declaration without approval from the city council.
That same act allows a mayor to take immediate emergency response measures to preserve the public peace, property, health or safety within the municipality or to provide continued operation of the municipal government.
Those measures also include utilizing the municipality’s available resources as reasonably necessary to cope with the emergency.
You can view each of the opinions in full here.
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