Role of our councillors
• THERE are 114 local authorities across the State with 1,627 members. Of these, 29 are county councils (with 753 members), five are city councils (with 130), five are borough councils (with 60) and 75 are town councils (with 684).
• Our pay and expenses investigation relates to members of the 29 county and five city councils.
• The job of a councillor is considered a part-time position. The 'Local Government and Elected Members' Handbook' says the voluntary public service is a "long-standing and publicly accepted part" of elected office.
However, in practice, many representatives consider the job a full-time post.
• In general terms, councillors are responsible for policy-making, with implementation of their decisions resting with the city or county manager.
• Functions performed by the elected members are known as 'reserved' functions, and include major decisions on policy and finance. In effect, they are like a board of directors, with the city or county manager acting as chief executive and implementing their decisions.
• Councillors' powers include, but are not limited to, adopting the annual budget, setting the commercial rate, giving approval to borrow money, land zoning, making or varying a development plan, making or changing bye-laws, nominating a candidate for the presidency and approving council land sales.
• They can also require a manager to carry out certain actions, including the granting of planning permission, and can also require them to attend specific meetings and give specific information, including financial data.
• The manager's powers are known as "executive" functions. They are responsible for staffing, collecting rent and rates, debt recovery, and deciding planning applications among other matters. They are required to implement the decisions of councillors.