Office of the City Clerk
The City Clerk is entrusted with maintaining, processing, and recording all proceedings and other records of the City Board of Aldermen to include:
The Office of City Clerk is one of the oldest and most respected positions in municipal government. Its varied responsibilities are set forth in detail within the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated (MCA).
A more detailed explanation of each duty can be found in the following chapters. STATUTORILY The Clerk of each municipality is designated by
A. Auditor of the Municipality (MCA § 21-15-21): The clerk shall be the auditor of the municipality. He shall keep a record, in which he shall enter and preserve accounts of each particular fund, and the accounts of each municipal officer. The treasurer or depository shall not receive money from any source until the same has been reported to the clerk and audited and a receipt warrant issued therefor. All fines and forfeitures shall be reported by the officer collecting the same immediately after such collection, and be paid into the treasury. The record of the auditor shall be subject to inspection by the taxpayers of the municipality at any time during business hours. 1. Maintain books of accounts: MCA § 21-35-11 requires the city clerk to open and keep records as prescribed by the State Auditor of each and every fund (State Auditor prescribed the accounting system Accounting Chapter). As required by this statute, the system is designed to be on a cash basis to show the status of the budget. The records shall contain accounts, under headings, corresponding with the several headings of the 4 budget, so that the expenditures under each heading and the purpose of the expenditure may be known at once. The records shall also show the source of all monies received and paid into each fund of the municipality. *** City clerk is liable for damages to the municipality if records are not maintained as required! 2. Maintains record of receipts and expenditures for governing authorities. MCA § 21-39-5 provides that the clerk shall mark filed, as of the date of presentation, each and every claim against the municipality. The clerk shall number the claims in regular consecutive order. Each year’s records shall be kept separate and begin with a new number each year. In issuing any warrant to pay any claim, the clerk shall enter the number of the claim on the body of the warrant so that the claim may be easily found, and so that duplication may be avoided. The clerk must designate on each warrant the fund out of which it is paid and to what account the sums shall be charged in the records. MCA § 21-39-5 requires claims to be received, dated and filed by the city clerk in the order in which they are received, and establish claims as public records. MCA § 21-39-7 goes a step further in that it requires a formal claims docket for municipalities with populations of more than 2,000. 3. Makes a monthly report of receipts and expenditures for governing authorities: MCA § 21-35-13 requires the city clerk at each regular meeting to submit to the governing authorities a report showing the expenditures and liabilities incurred against each separate budget item for the month and also for each preceding month of the fiscal year together with the unexpended balance of each appropriation item. The clerk shall also set forth receipts from property taxes and receipts from other taxes and all other sources of each fund. 4. Draws warrants for claims and accounts. MCA § 21-39-13 provides that the clerk shall draw all warrants or checks for claims and accounts allowed and approved by the governing authorities. All expenditures must be approved by the governing authorities in the minutes. (Even if it’s an otherwise lawful expenditure, unless it’s approved in the minutes, the municipality can’t pay it). All warrants or checks must be signed by the mayor or a majority of the members of the board or aldermen in a code charter municipality. All warrants must be attested by the clerk, attesting to the validity and genuineness of the check, and the seal must be affixed to the checks. Every check must show to whom it is issued, for what purpose, and the ordinance or order approving the claim by minute book and page. All warrants and checks must be drawn against the proper account or fund. All warrants or checks shall be drawn in the order of their allowance (approval). No check shall be signed until there is sufficient money in the fund upon which it is drawn. * * * MCA § 21-39- 17 imposes criminal liability on the clerk if the clerk willfully or feloniously signs a check to spend money from the treasury when the 5 expenditure is not authorized by any order entered on the minutes: misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment in county jail for 6 months, or both, AND removal from office. *** Also, MCA § 21- 39-5 provides that the clerk is subject to suit on his/her bond for damages which the city incurs as a result of the clerk’s failure to perform any duties with regard to claims or the claims docket! 5. MCA § 21-35-31 requires every municipality to have its municipal books audited annually before the close of the next succeeding fiscal year in accordance with the procedures and reporting requirements prescribed by the State Auditor. The audit or report shall be made upon a uniform formula set up and promulgated by the State Auditor, or his designee. Two copies of the audit or report shall be mailed to the Auditor within thirty (30) days after completion. The Auditor shall submit a composite report to the Legislature showing any information concerning municipalities in this state that the Auditor deems pertinent and necessary to the Legislature in its deliberations. A synopsis of the audit or report shall be published within thirty (30) days by the governing authority in a newspaper published in the municipality (if none, in any newspaper with general circulation in the county where the municipality is located). B. Minutes and Seal (MCA § 21-15-17) 1. Clerk is required to keep the minutes of all meetings of the governing authority. All proceedings, orders, ordinances, resolutions and any other actions of the governing authority should be placed in the minutes. The minutes must be indexed alphabetically, so that all entries can be easily found. Minutes MUST, at a minimum, contain the following: a. Time, date and place of meeting b. Members present c. All final actions of the governing body d. Votes, by member, on each action Members may designate any other items they wish to appear. (MCA § 25-41-11) 2. All ordinances must be recorded in the minutes, either in full or just by title. If only the title is recorded in the minutes, the mayor and clerk must read, verify and subscribe the ordinance in full. 3. Each municipality shall adopt a municipal seal, and the municipal clerk is the custodian of the municipal seal. 4. Adoption of minutes. MCA § 21-15-33 requires that the minutes be adopted and approved by a majority of the members of the governing body at the next regular meeting or within 30 days of the meeting they represent, whichever occurs first. Upon such approval, the minutes are 6 valid from and after the date of the meeting. The governing body may, by ordinance, designate that the minutes be approved by the mayor. The fact they are not signed within 30 days does not void actions taken. C. Claims Docket (MCA § 21-39-7) 1. Claims are the requests for payment for commodities and services received by the municipality. 2. MCA § 21-39-5 requires claims to be received, dated and filed by the city clerk in the order in which they are received to establish priority of claims. This record of claims is a public record. 3. MCA § 21-39-7 requires the city clerk in a municipality of more than 2,000 to keep a claims docket in which the clerk shall enter all demands, claims and accounts presented during the month. The clerk must enter the name of the claimant, the number of the claim, the amount of the claim and on what account. Claims numbers must appear on any check issued in payment. 4. MCA § 21-39-9 requires governing authority to review all unpaid claims and determine if there is an obligation. An obligation exists if the related materials and supplies were properly contracted for and received by the municipality. The governing authority should adopt procedures to determine if any obligation exists and whether a claim should be paid, which should include some mechanism to determine if the goods or services were actually received. 5. Contents of claims docket: What items should appear on the claims docket, and what items need not appear on the claims docket? Items required to be listed on the claims docket: a. All claims by third parties providing commodities or services b. Total amount of payroll **** prepayment of salaries is allowed when salaries or rates of pay have been set by board order or line item in the budget and such prepayment has been authorized by order in the minutes. c. Electronic transfers to PERS d. Claim for partial payment on construction contract Items not required to be listed on the claim dockets: a. Appropriations to municipal departments (these expenditures are authorized by MCA § 21-39-17) b. Donations authorized by statute (but may be included) 7 c. Maturities of bond principal and interest (but may be included) MS AG Op., Cochran (March 8, 1996). 6. MCA § 21-39-13 and § 21-35-17 provide that when claims are approved, the city clerk must determine that the funds are available in the budget and sufficient cash is in the municipal depository to pay the claims. Upon this determination, the mayor or a majority of the governing authority must sign the check, and the city clerk must attest the check. Payment is then promptly made to the claimant. MCA § 21-35-17 imposes liability upon the governing authority for approving claims in excess of the budget. The city clerk’s budget report should verify that funds are in the budget to cover the claim. D. Municipal Docket (Agenda)( MCA § 21-15-19) 1. Clerk is required to keep the “municipal docket,” upon which is to be entered each subject, other than claims and accounts, to be acted upon by the governing authority at the next meeting. 2. The Mayor may place items on the agenda. Aldermen/council members may place any item of city business within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch of government. 3. The Mayor may not use statutory authority to preside over meetings to prevent an alderman from placing items on the agenda or to prevent discussion of or voting on any matter on the agenda at the meeting. 4. Governing authorities may include on the agenda a time for members of the public to speak, but are not required to do so. E. Ordinances 1. Basic Authority: municipal governing authority may adopt ordinances and enforce them by a fine not to exceed $1000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. (MCA § 21-13-1) 2. There are specific rules surrounding the adopting of ordinances: a. The style of all ordinances must be “Be it ordained by the mayor and board of aldermen (or city council, etc) of the city (town or village) of , . . .” (MCA § 21-13-7). b. Ordinances may only contain one subject, and the title to any amendment should clearly state the subject matter of the amendment. (MCA § 21-13-9) c. All ordinances must be reduced to writing before a vote is taken. The final vote must be recorded in the minutes by the clerk. If one or more members of the governing body requests, the clerk shall read the ordinance before the vote is taken. 8 d. All ordinances are to be certified by the clerk, and signed by either the mayor or a majority of the governing authority, recorded in the ordinance book and published at least one (1) time before the ordinance is effective. If the ordinance appears in full in the minutes, and the minutes have been duly signed, there is no need for each ordinance to be separately signed and attested in the minutes. (MCA § 25-15-33) e. If text of ordinance is extremely long, MCA § 21-17-19 provides that the substance of an ordinance can be published in lieu of the full text; the substance of the ordinance is defined as an explanatory statement summarizing the full text, in which the chief purpose of the measure is explained in clear and unambiguous language, which does not exceed 300 words. The clerk must post the full text of the ordinance in three specific public places (outlined in MCA § 21-17-19) in the municipality during the full publication period. f. No ordinance shall be in force for one (1) month after its passage, except for those for the immediate and temporary preservation of the public peace, health or safety or for other good cause, which is adopted by unanimous vote. Such a measure, when adopted unanimously by the full membership of the governing authorities can become effective from and after passage. The ordinance must state the reason why it is to become effective immediately. This does not relieve any notice and publication procedures, and an emergency ordinance must be recorded in the ordinance book in the same manner as any other ordinance. (MCA § 21-13-11) g. Ordinances granting franchise or any right to use or occupy the streets, highways, bridges or public places in the municipality, have special requirements - any such ordinance must be introduced in writing at a regular meeting and shall remain on file in the clerk’s office for at least 2 weeks prior to any action. 3. Ordinance Book. The municipal clerk shall keep the ordinances of the municipality in a book and shall append to each ordinance a note indicating the date of passage, and a citation to the minute book and page of the minutes containing the record of its passage. Ordinances not entered in the minute book are considered void. (MCA § 21-13-13) 4. Revision and Publication of Ordinances. Municipalities may revise and codify ordinances and publish them in a book or in pamphlet form. The entire book may be adopted as the official code of municipal ordinances by the governing authority without re-approving each individual ordinance. (MCA § 21-13-15) 5. Building codes. Municipal governing authorities may adopt building codes, plumbing codes, electrical codes, gas codes, sanitary codes or any 9 other codes dealing with public health, safety and welfare by ordinance. The ordinance must be presented in writing to the governing authority. However, the ordinance need not set out in full the entire code being adopted, but may simply reference it. The clerk is not required to transcribe the entire code in the ordinance book, but the code is to be certified to by the mayor and clerk and kept as a permanent record in the clerk’s office. Publication may be accomplished by publishing the substance. (MCA § 21-19-25) 6. Clerk also has the duty to certify copies of ordinances for introduction into evidence in judicial proceedings. (MCA § 21-13-17) F. Ex Officio Treasurer. Under MCA § 21-3-5 in code charter municipalities not having a depository and under MCA § 21-39-19 in ALL municipalities not having a depository, the clerk serves as ex officio treasurer of the municipality and receives, keeps and pays out all moneys belonging to the municipality, according to law. G. Taxes 1. Assessment Rolls. MCA § 21-33-41 requires clerk to make a copy of the assessment rolls of both real and personal property, attach his/her certificate to the rolls, and give it to the tax collector. The clerk preserves the original as a public record in the clerk’s office. 2. Certification of tax levy. MCA § 21-33-47 provides that when the governing authority has made the levy of taxes by resolution, the clerk shall certify the tax levy to the tax collector of the municipality and send a copy to the Department of Revenue. The clerk shall publish the resolution levying the taxes, as provided in MCA § 21-17-19, within 2 weeks after it is entered on the minutes. 3. Collection of taxes. 4. Municipal Tax Sale 5. Redemption of land sold for municipal taxes. MCA § 21-33-61 provides that the owner, or any person with an interest in land sold for taxes, can, within 2 years from the date of the sale, redeem the land by paying taxes, penalties and costs in the office of the city clerk. The clerk issues to the owner a release of all claim or title of the municipality or purchaser attested by the municipal seal. MCA § 27-45-11 provides for redemption of municipal school district tax sales in the office of the city clerk. 6. Privilege License 10 H. Municipal Court Clerk. MCA § 21-23-11 provides that the clerk of the municipality shall be the clerk of the municipal court, unless the governing authority shall otherwise elect. Duties of municipal court clerk are set out by statute. I. Registrar of Voters. MCA § 23-15-35 provides that the municipal clerk shall be the registrar of voters. The registrar keeps the municipal registration books and complies with all provisions of law regarding state and local elections. Upon receipt of a copy of the application for registration by the county registrar, the clerk makes a determination of the municipal voting precinct for municipal electors. MCA § 23-15-39(3). J. Preserving Public Records. 1. Local Government Records Committee. MCA § 25-60-1 et seq. Each municipality must establish and maintain an active and continuing program for the management of records. MCA § 25-60-5(1) provides that any municipal official or employee who accepts a document for filing as a public record shall, in addition to any other fee, collect $1.00 per document. In municipalities collecting more than $300 per month in this fashion, half of the fee shall be deposited into the general fund and the other half of the fee submitted to the State Treasurer for the statewide local government record management fund. In municipalities collecting less than $300 per month in such fees, this may be done on a quarterly basis. 2. Preservation of essential records. A governing authority may make reproductions of records of the municipality deemed to be necessary to the operation of government in an emergency created by disaster, and arrange for the safekeeping of those records. (MCA § 21-15-35) 3. Reproduction of Records; destruction of originals. A governing authority may make reproductions and destroy originals, in accordance with a records control schedule approved by the Local Government Records Committee. (MCA § 21-15-37)