Local Authorities perform both a representational and an operational role in the context of the Irish system of Local Government, encompassing bothdemocratic representation and public administration. Overall policy is determined by the Elected Members and the day to day management of services is carried out by the Chief Executive and Staff of the Council.
The representational role of Leitrim County Council is performed directly by the 18 Elected Members of Leitrim County Council who are elected from the three Municipal Districts within the County (Local Elections take place every 5 years, the most recent in 2014). The Cathaoirleach and Leas-Cathaoirleach (Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson) are elected from among the membership of the Council at the Annual Meeting of the Council and hold office for a one-year term. The functions of the Elected Members are known as “Reserved Functions” and are generally prescribed in legislation. Under Section 130 of the Local Government Act 2001 as amended it is the function of the elected council of a local authority to determine by resolution the policy of the local authority. Such functions include: -
- Adoption of the Annual Budget
- Making or varying the County Development Plan
- Making, amending or revoking Bye-Laws
- Approving the Borrowing of Money Reserved Functions are performed by the Councillors by “resolution” at meetings of the Council.
The operational role is performed by the Chief Executive and the staff. They are responsible for the day to day administration of the Council. The functions performed by the Chief Executive are known as “Executive Functions”. Such functions include: -
- The letting of houses
- The granting or refusal of Planning Permission
- The management and control of staff
The Chief Executive in making his decisions must act in accordance with law and policy as adopted by the elected council. The Chief Executive has a duty to advise and assist the elected council (and that council shall have regard to that advice/assistance) in the exercise of their functions and can attend and speak, but not vote, at council meetings.
The division between reserved and executive functions is such that the Chief Executive operates within a framework of policy laid down by the elected members. In reality the system operates by means of a partnership where the Chief Executive consults regularly with the Members in relation to the executive functions, while at the same time advising them on the performance of their reserved functions.
Leitrim County Council employs approximately 256 Whole-Time-Equivalent (WTE) staff plus 48 Part-time Retained Fire Fighters.