The Commission Plan


  1.  Every city organized under the commission plan must have an elected officer, who is called the mayor and four elected commissioners.  The mayor and commissioners together comprise the city commission. KRS 83A.140(2) and KRS 83A.030(2).
  2. In the commissioner for government, all of the executive, administrative and legislative authority of the city is vested in and exercised by the city commission as a body.  There is no separation of powers as in the mayor-council form.  The executive and legislative branches of government are combined in the city commission, except to the limited extent explained  in the subsection 3 below.
  3. The city commission must separate all the administrative and service functions of the city into departments by ordinance.  KRS 83A.140(6).  The ordinance must set forth the functions of the department, and the duties and responsibilities of the department head and employees.  Each department must be placed under the superintendence of one of the city commissioner members at the city commission's first meeting each year, unless the city commissioner has created the office of city administrator.  In that case, the city administrator may be delegated the supervisory and administrative control over the departments and functions of the city government.  KRS 83A.140(6).  Individual city commissioners have the authority to exercise certain executive and administrative powers on a day-to-day basis within their "superintendent" role but the ultimate authority rest with the city commission acting as a body.  In other words, the city commission acting as a body has the power to override any decision made or action taken by an individual commissioner. KRS 83A.140(6).
  4. Powers and Duties of the Mayor
    1. The commission plan mayor is a full-functioning and voting member of the legislative body with only the following limited responsibilities and authorities as mayor:
      • Preside at meetings of the legislative body. KRS83A.140(4).
      • Call special meetings of the legislative body. KRS 83A. 140(7).
      • Sign all bonds, notes, contracts and written obligations of the city. KRS 83A.140(4).
      • Many state statutes assign the mayor, in all types of government, the authority and responsibility to appoint individuals to a number of boards and commissions.  Each board or commission has different appointment requirements.  Specific statues applying to each board or commission should be consulted to determine the appropriate procedure.
      • The mayor also acts as the ceremonial head of the city government and is recognized as the head of the city government by the Governor for purposes of military law.  The mayor in the commissioner form of government, unlike the mayor in the mayor-council form, cannot designate a person to fulfill the mayor's separate executive and administrative functions.  The city commission is required to appoint one commissioner as mayor pro tem to act for the mayor whenever the mayor is unable to attend to the duties of the office. KRS 83A. 140(4).  During that time, the mayor pro tem will have all the rights, powers and duties as mayor.  As in the mayor council form, if the mayor is unable to tend to his/hers duties for 60 consecutive days, the office may be declared vacant by a vote of the majority of the membership of the commissioner.  KRS 83A. 140(4).
  5. Powers and Duties of the Legislative Body
    1. In commission plans, the legislative body has all of the powers and duties described above that apply to city councils in mayor-council forms of government, and also all executive and administrative power unless otherwise noted above, except for the following.:
      • There is no veto power
      • There is no power to disapprove regulations promulgated by the mayor since the mayor has no independent authority in commission plan cities to promulgate regulations.



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