This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol8 Partnership, Private Corporations, Public Corporations", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
So far as the functions of a municipal corporation are legislative, they may rest in the discretion and judgment of the municipal body entrusted with them, and that body cannot refer the exercise of the power to the judgment of its subordinates or of any person.8
The powers delegated to municipal corporations for the control and management of their own local affairs and concerns, are regarded as trusts confided to the hands in which they are placed, and are not subject to be delegated by the repositories of them.
In Oakland vs. Carpentier, 13 Cal., 540, it appeared that the board of trustees of the town of Oakland, in whom the legislature had large corporate and municipal powers, were authorized "to lay out, make, open, widen, regulate and keep in repair all streets, bridges, ferries, public places and grounds, wharves, docks, piers, slips, sewers and alleys, and to authorize the construction of the same." Under this clause the board by ordinance gave defendant exclusive privilege of laying out, establishing, constructing and regulating wharves, etc., within the city for thirty-seven years. Held, "that the ordinance was void as being a transfer of the corporate powers of the board."
There exists no doubt, however, of the power of a municipal corporation to employ agents for the execution and carrying out its ministerial work.9
7 City of Chicago vs. Stratton, 162
III., 494. 8 City of East St. Louis vs. Thomas, 11 III. App., 283.
9 Hitchcock vs. Galveston, 96 U. S., 341.
Respecting the authority of a municipal corporation to surrender its legislative powers, Judge Dillon says: "Powers are conferred upon municipal corporations for public purposes; and as their legislative powers cannot be delegated, so they cannot be bargained or bartered away. Such corporations may make authorized contracts, but they have no power, as a party, to make contracts or pass by-laws which shall cede away, control, or embarrass their legislative or governmental powers, or which shall disable them from performing their public duties."