Executive Branch: Mayor-President
The Mayor-President is the key to the entire system, with considerable duties and powers. In the absence of the Mayor-President, the President Pro-Tempore is the acting Mayor-President.
The Mayor-President appoints most of the department heads and supervises and directs the services of those departments:
- Chief Administrative Officer
- Chief of Police
- Director of Finance
- Director of Public Works
- Fire Chief
- Personnel Administrator
- Purchasing Agent
The persons whom the Mayor-President and Council appoint, as directors of departments, are under the rules of the personnel system.
The Mayor-President, through the Purchasing Agent, purchases supplies for the government. Contracts authorized by the Council, which are let out for bids, are also handled by the Purchasing Agent for the Mayor. The Council accepts or rejects the bids on larger contracts.
From garbage collection to supervising the expenditure of thousands of dollars in construction work, the Mayor-President serves as the administrator. The Council allocates money to operate the departments and to pay the employees. The Mayor's role is to select the men and women to do the job and give them supervision and direction. The daily routine of purchasing supplies, advertising for bids, hiring employees, maintaining streets, preparing plans and specifications for public improvements, collecting trash and garbage, issuing building permits, providing police protection and fire protection, and the bookkeeping for the funds of the parish and city are performed or assigned by the department heads.
The Plan of Government specifies that the Mayor is to:
- Recommend policies and programs to the council
- Inform the council, as to the financial condition of the city and parish
- Prepare and submit annual budgets to the council
- Submit annual financial and progress reports to the council
The Mayor, then, is much like a business manager or plant manager.
The preparation of annual budgets for submission to the Council is one of the most important duties of the Mayor-President. The Mayor, with the assistance of his Director of Finance, makes every effort to submit a well-prepared budget to the Council. The Council approves the budgets and may make changes; however, it cannot budget more money than the Mayor estimates will be received. The departments are then required to operate within the budget allocations.
A budget is a device to control and hold expenditures within the limits of expected revenue. The Plan of Government provides that in a given year, no expenditure may be made which is not contained in the budget. However, if a surplus develops over and above the funds budgeted, it may be appropriated by the Council only after certification by the Director of Finance and Mayor-President. The purpose of this requirement is to have all the financial needs of the government considered at one time. The expected revenues are allocated for various purposes by considering all needs together. This means that the possibility of hasty and ill-considered appropriations for individual items is lessened.
Money can be spent only as it is budgeted. However, special procedure has been adopted for handling budget supplements throughout the year. The plan provides that if the council cannot agree on the budgets by December 15, the budgets submitted by the Mayor for the next calendar year become final.