Just the Facts: The Lawrason Act

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By Dave Freneaux

The City of Central was created under and is governed by "The Lawrason Act", which is a group of laws included in Louisiana law is the framework for more than 75% of the incorporated municipalities in Louisiana.  The Lawrason Act sets forth the rules by which officials are elected and appointed, what the powers and duties are for each office, how ordinances and resolutions are created and passed, how courts are set up and administered, how budgets are adopted and how taxes are levied.  These laws, together with subsequent case law and Attorney General's opinions, lay the foundation and the rules by which the City of Central is governed. will endeavor, over a period of time, to provide informative facts about the Lawrason Act in hopes of clearing up any misconception about the way Central's government should function.  Much like our Federal Government, Central has both a Legislative and an Executive branch.  The Legislative branch is the City Council.  While the entirety of the law cannot be reduced to a few paragraphs, an overview of the Council and the Mayor's roles in government follow below.

The City Council, among other powers, may enact ordinances and enforce them by fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 60 days, or both.  The Council may also enact ordinances to assess property owners for the costs of cutting and removing excessive plant overgrowth from neglected properties.  The Council shall provide policies and procedures regulating employment of municipal employees.  An ordinance may be passed by the Council selecting the manner by which Council Members are elected, being by District, Division, At Large, or some combination thereof.  The Council gives final approval for the annual budget submitted by the Mayor and must confirm or reject the Mayor's appointment of the clerk, city attorney and any department head.  Finally, the Council may pass Resolutions, which are similar to Ordinances but do not have the force and effect of law but rather express the opinion of the current administration.
The Mayor is the chief executive officer of the city and, among other powers, is to supervise and direct the administration and operation of all departments, offices, and agencies, other than that of an elected Chief of Police.  The Mayor's administration of the operation of the city must be in conformity with all ordinances and laws, but no ordinance may limit the authority granted to the mayor by the Lawrason Act.  The Mayor signs all contracts on behalf of the city and represents the city on all occasions required by state law or ordinance.  The Mayor prepares and submits the annual budgets for approval by the Council.  Finally, the Mayor appoints and removes all city employees except police employees.  Appointment or removal of the clerk, city attorney and any department head is subject to Council approval.