County Mayor’s Duties
The Tennessee Constitution requires that each county not having a metropolitan form of government elect a county mayor for a term of four years. Any county resident who has been a resident of the county for more than one year, who is at least 25 years old, and who is not otherwise disqualified from holding public office (by reason of criminal conviction or other legal disqualification) may seek the office of county mayor. No educational or experience requirements apply to the office. The county mayor may serve an unlimited number of terms. The county mayor is elected by popular vote at the regular August election in those even numbered years when the governor is being elected, and takes office on September 1 following the election upon receiving the proper certificate of election, being officially bonded as required by law, and taking the required oath of office. Failing to take and file the proper oath and bond is a misdemeanor offense.
Henry County Mayor’s Oath of Office is as follows:
“I do solemnly swear that I will perform with fidelity the duties of the office to which I have been elected and which I am about to assume. I do solemnly swear to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States and to faithfully perform the duties of the office of county mayor for Henry County, Tennessee.”
The county mayor exercises a role of leadership in county government beyond the express authority given by law. The express duties center around county financial management. The county mayor is the general agent of the county and as such may draw warrants upon the county general fund. He or she has custody of county property not placed with other officers. The county mayor may examine the accounts of county officers.
The county mayor is a nonvoting ex officio member of the county legislative body and of all committees of the body, and may be elected chairman of the county legislative body (a post that the county mayor is not required to seek or accept). If the county mayor is chairman of the county legislative body, the county mayor may break a tie by casting a deciding vote; but otherwise cannot vote on measures before the county legislative body. The county mayor who is not chairman may veto resolutions of the county legislative body of a legislative nature, but such vetoes may be overridden by a majority of the members of the county legislative body. In Henry County the county mayor is chairman of the legislative body.
The county mayor may call special meetings of the county legislative body.
The county mayor usually has a strong role in the preparation of a proposed county budget to the county legislative body. Unless an optional general law or private act provides otherwise, the county mayor is responsible for compiling a budget for all county departments, offices, and agencies, and presenting this budget document to the county legislative body. However, the amount of discretion in making budget proposals varies from county to county; and in almost all counties, the school board’s budget proposal is submitted to the county legislative body without modification. If the county operates under the optional 1981 Financial Management System, the county mayor is a member of the financial management committee. If the county operates under the optional 1957 County Budgeting Law, the county mayor is a member of the county budget committee. The University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) has published a County Revenue Manual to aid county officials in finding sources of revenue. Henry County operates under the Private Acts of 1983.
The county mayor may employ a county attorney if a county attorney is not provided by private act. The county mayor approves the delinquent tax attorney selected by the county trustee. By virtue of private acts, the county mayor is often granted authority in addition to that given by the general law. For example, the county mayor serves as county purchasing agent in many counties. The county mayor also serves on various boards and committees with multi-county jurisdiction such as the development district boards.
When neither the general law nor private acts provide for the election or appointment of department heads or members of county boards or commissions, the county mayor makes the appointment subject to the approval of the county legislative body. This is not as broad an authority as it may appear because the general law or private act creating the department or board usually provides how the various department heads or board members in county government are selected.
Since managing the office is another important aspect for a county mayor, they should know about personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. Also, having a basic understanding of potential liability, both personal and county liability, including an understanding of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, is vital. Every county official should familiarize himself or herself with the conflict of interests and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.
The compensation of the county mayor is determined by the county legislative body, except the county legislative body (Shelby County excepted) must provide a salary for the county mayor that is at least 15 percent greater than the maximum salary of the county trustee. The legislature usually amends the salary law each year in order to provide increases to the salaries of county officials.