Supreme Court Holds City Council Can Appoint City Department Heads

On October 25, 2019, the Alabama Supreme Court handed down an opinion affirming a motion to dismiss in favor of the City of Selma City Council, who was being represented by Hill, Hill, Carter attorneys Reed Morgan Coleman and Randall Morgan. The suit was originally filed by Selma’s Mayor Darrio Melton and asserted the City Council was without legal authority to enact an ordinance in which it made the City Council the appointing authority for the positions of chief of police, chief of the fire department, and tax collector. On behalf of their client, Coleman and Morgan argued the City Council acted within the scope of its authority when it enacted the ordinance, citing to various statutes of the Alabama Municipal Code as well as prior Supreme Court decisions. The trial court agreed and granted the City Council’s motion to dismiss. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal. In its opinion, the Supreme Court definitively establishes that city councils can reserve for themselves the power to appoint the positions of tax collector, tax assessor, chief of the fire department, and chief of the police department pursuant to Alabama Code § 11-43-15 (1975). Relatedly, the opinion affirms that Beasley v. McCorkle, 184 So. 904 (Ala. 1938) is still good law under the current municipal code.

For more information on this case or on our municipal law practice group, please contact the firm at 334.834.7600.