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.
Section 72. Municipal corporations in England frequently exercise powers by virtue of a long established custom or prescription; this is said to presuppose a grant of the power exercised by charter or act of parliament, which has been lost. But in this country the powers of municipal corporations cannot be conferred upon them by usage, and this necessarily follows as a result of the manner in which our municipal corporations are created, viz.: By express legislative act, wherein their powers and duties are wholly prescribed.6
4 Kyle vs. Malin, 8 Ind., 34.
5 Richards vs. Town of Clarksburg, 30 W. Va., 491.
6 Dillon, Mun. Corp. (3rd Ed.), par.
92; in the case of Butler vs. Charleston, 7 Gray (Mass.). 12, it was held that: A city whose charter and ordinances provide that no contract shall be binding on the city unless made by some authorized agent and within some appropriation for the purpose, is not liable for legal services beneficial to the city performed by counsel retained by a majority of the members of the board of aldermen without any action of the city council, although the usage of the city had been to pay such bills approved by a committee of either board without any formal vote."