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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 17: County executive plan

Section 17. (A.) Form of Government.

(i) The form of government provided in this section shall be known as the ''county executive plan,'' and shall together with sections fifteen, sixteen and twenty of this chapter, govern any county whose voters have adopted it pursuant to this chapter.

(ii) Elected officers; governing body defined; exercise of administrative or executive functions by county executive.

(a) Each county operating under this section shall be governed by an elected board of commissioners and an elected county executive and by such other officers and employees as may be duly appointed pursuant to this act, general law, or ordinance.

(b) In each county operating under this section the term ''governing body'' of the county shall be construed to include both the commissioners and the county executive. For the purpose of the construction of any applicable law, any and all administrative or executive functions heretofore assigned by general law to the commissioners shall be exercised by the county executive, and any and all legislative and investigative functions heretofore assigned by general law to the commissioner shall be exercised by the board.

(B.) County Executive.

(i) The county executive shall be a qualified voter of the county residing in the county. He shall be elected from the county at large for a term of four years commencing on January first, next following his election.

(ii) The salary of the county executive shall be fixed by ordinance of the commissioners; such salary shall be reasonable and commensurate with the duties of the office and with the fact that the position of county executive is and shall be a full-time position. The salary of the county executive may not be lowered during his tenure in office.

(iii) The office of county executive shall be deemed vacant if the incumbent moves his residence from the county or he is by physical or mental illness or other casualty unable to continue to serve as county executive. Any vacancy in the office of county executive shall be filled in the manner prescribed by law for the election of county officers at the next general election occurring not less than sixty days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The commissioners may appoint one of their number or the chief administrator to serve as acting county executive until a successor has been elected. During the temporary absence or temporary disability of the county executive the chief administrator shall serve as acting county executive.

(iv) The executive power of the county shall be exercised by the county executive. He shall:

(a) Report annually to the board of commissioners, the advisory board on county expenditures and to the people on the state of the county, and the work of the previous year; he shall also recommend to the board of commissioners whatever action or programs he deems necessary for the improvement of the county and the welfare of its residents. He may from time to time at his discretion recommend any course of action or programs he deems necessary or desirable for the county to undertake;

(b) Prepare and submit to the board of commissioners and advisory board for consideration and adoption an annual operating budget and a capital budget and a capital program, establish the schedules and procedures to be followed by all county departments, offices and agencies in connection therewith, and supervise and administer all phases of the budgetary process;

(c) Enforce the county charter, the county's laws and all general laws applicable thereto;

(d) Supervise the care and custody of all county property, institutions and agencies;

(e) Supervise the collection of revenues, and audit and control all disbursements and expenditures and shall prepare a complete account of all expenditures. He shall also designate the repositories of county funds;

(f) Sign all contracts, bonds or other instruments requiring the consent of county;

(g) Review, analyze and forecast trends of county services and finances and programs of all boards, commissions, agencies and other county bodies, and report and recommend thereon to the board;

(h) Develop, install and maintain centralized budgeting, personnel and purchasing procedures as may be authorized by the administrative code;

(i) Negotiate contracts for the county subject to board and, where appropriate, advisory board approval; make recommendations concerning the nature and location of county improvements and execute improvements determined by the board;

(j) Assure that all terms and conditions, imposed in favor of the county or its inhabitants in any statute, franchise or other contract, are faithfully kept and performed;

(k) Serve as an ex-officio nonvoting member of all appointive bodies in county government;

(v) The county executive:

(a) Shall supervise, direct and control all county administrative departments;

(b) With the advice and consent of the board of commissioners, shall appoint the county-counsel, the administrator, the heads of all departments and any divisions created within such departments, and the members of all county boards, commissions and authorities;

(c) May, at his discretion, remove or suspend any official in the unclassified service of the county over whose office the county executive has power of appointment;

(d) May, at his discretion, but subject to any pertinent provision of the general laws or civil service regulations, delegate to department heads powers of appointment and removal of their departmental employees. If the county executive does not so delegate his power he may appoint and remove, subject to civil service regulations, all employees;

(e) May require reports and examine the accounts, records and operations of any agency of county government;

(f) May, at his discretion, order any agency under his jurisdiction to undertake any task for any other agency on a temporary basis if he deems it necessary for the proper and efficient administration of county government to do so;

(g) Shall approve each ordinance of the board of commissioners by signing it, or may veto any ordinance by returning it to the clerk of the board within ten days of passage with a written statement of his objections to the ordinance. If two-thirds of the full membership of the board, upon reconsideration of the measure, shall vote for it, the executive's veto shall be overridden and the ordinance shall become law without the executive's signature in accordance with the provisions of law.

(C.) Board of Commissioners.

(i) The legislative power of the county shall be vested in the board of commissioners. Such legislative power shall be exercised by ordinance, except for the exercise of the following powers which are required to be or are permitted to be, exercised by resolution:

(a) The conduct of an inquiry; or investigation;

(b) The expression of disapproval of the suspension or dismissal of officers or employees;

(c) The exercise of the power of advice and consent to actions of the executive;

(d) The override of a veto of the county executive;

(e) The adoption of rules for the board;

(f) The establishment of times and places for board meetings;

(g) The establishment of the board as a committee of the whole and the delegation of any number of its members as an ad hoc committee;

(h) The declaration of emergencies;

(i) The identification of emergency situations;

(j) The establishment of county personnel policies;

(k) Designation of newspapers; for required advertisements and notices;

(l) The appointment and removal of such officers and employees as the board is permitted by law;

(m) Approval of contracts presented by the county executive;

(n) Actions specified as resolutions; and

(o) The expression of such board policies or opinions as required no formal action by the governing body.

(ii) At its organizational meeting each January the board shall select one of its members to serve as chairman and one as vice-chairman for the year.

(iii) The county executive may be present and participate in the discussions at all board meetings.

(iv) The board of commissioners.

(a) Shall advise and consent to all appointment by the executive for which board confirmation is specified under this article;

(b) Shall pass in accordance with this chapter whatever ordinances and resolutions it deems necessary and proper for the good governance of the county;

(c) Shall appoint a clerk to the board who shall keep the records and minutes of the board, and who shall serve at the pleasure of the board or for such term, not to exceed three years, as may be provided by the commissioners provided, however, that an ordinance providing for the adoption of any such term shall not be enacted between October first of any year and January first of the succeeding year;

(d) May appoint counsel to the board, if such position is created by the administrative code, to serve at the pleasure of the board;

(e) May pass a resolution of disapproval or dismissal;

(f) May override a veto of the county executive by a two-thirds vote of its full membership;

(g) Shall approve the annual operating and capital budgets, prior to presenting the budgets for advisory board appropriation.

(D.) Chief Administrator.

(i) The county executive shall appoint a chief administrator who shall serve at his pleasure. The board shall advise and consent to his nomination but shall not prevent his suspension or dismissal by passage of a resolution of disapproval.

(ii) The chief administrator shall by education, experience and ability be qualified to perform the duties established for him.

He need not be a resident of the county at the time of his appointment, but during his tenure he may live outside the county only with the permission of the county executive.

(iii) The chief administrator shall be responsible only to the executive. He shall, under the direction and supervision of the executive, undertake to assist in the orderly and efficient administration of the county, performing whatever supervisory or administrative duties the executive deems necessary and proper.

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the chief administrator's being appointed to head one or more departments on a temporary or permanent basis.