Attorney General: Ms. Mary Ann Hanley, Office of Workforce Competitiveness, 2000-018 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

May 11, 2000

Ms. Mary Ann Hanley
Director
Office of Workforce Competitiveness
805 Brook Street - Building 4
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Dear Ms. Hanley:

In your letter dated April 27, 2000 you requested a formal opinion as to whether the chairman of a council of government has the authority to sign on behalf of all the chief elected officials of a workforce investment area an agreement by which the council of government will administer and oversee federal Workforce Investment Act funds and activities. We conclude that a council of government is not authorized to oversee and administer federal Workforce Investment Act funds and activities absent a properly executed delegation of authority from the chief elected officials of each of those municipalities of the local workforce area pursuant to the terms of the Workforce Investment Act. Chief elected officials of municipalities within a local workforce region may delegate their authority to sign a Workforce Investment Act agreement to a council of government provided each chief elected official receives whatever authorization may be required pursuant to the local municipal charter.

Your question arises in the context of a question raised by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government (SCCOG). This council of government questions whether it is authorized to sign on behalf of all the chief elected officials of its region an agreement by which it will administer Workforce Investment Act funds without the specific authorization from its constituent municipalities. The SCCOG refers to other grants that it administers without such specific authorization.

The responsibility of chief elected officials together with local boards that they appoint for the administration of the Workforce Investment Act is stated in the terms of the Act. Chief elected officials serve as the local grant recipient for, and are liable for any misuse of, any grant funds allocated to the local area. 29 USC 2832 117(d)(3)(B)(i)(I). The authority to administer funds is placed with the chief elected officials of units of general local government. The Act makes no reference to councils of government. The Act defines chief elected official as the chief elected executive officer of a unit of general local government or, where a local workforce investment area includes more than one unit of general local government, the individuals designated under an agreement among the chief elected officials of the local workforce investment area. 29 USC 2801 101(6). The Act defines "a unit of general local government" as "any general purpose political subdivision of a State that has the power to levy taxes and spend funds, as well as general corporate and police powers." Id., at 101 (48).

Councils of government do not have direct authority to perform the functions of a chief elected official under the Act. While councils of government have been recognized as political subdivisions of the state for specific purposes under the Environmental Protection Act, 00 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. (March 24, 2000) a council of government does not have the authority to tax or to exercise general police powers. Councils of government have the powers of councils of elected officials under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-124d and regional planning agencies under Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-35a. Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-124m. However, neither councils of elected officials nor regional planning agencies have powers of taxation or general police powers. A council of government is, therefore, not a "unit of general local government" as defined by the Workforce Investment Act.

While councils of government are not units of general local government under the Workforce Investment Act, chief elected officials of units of general local government may nevertheless, execute agreements by which they confer authority upon councils to administer the Act in local workforce areas. Such authority is dependent upon a chief elected official obtaining whatever municipal authorization is necessary for the council of government to act on behalf of the chief elected official.

We conclude that a council of government is not authorized to administer and oversee Workforce Investment Act funds and activities without a properly executed delegation of authority from the chief elected officials of each of those municipalities of the local workforce area. Chief elected officials of those municipalities within a local workforce region may delegate their authority to sign a Workforce Investment Act agreement to a council of government provided each chief elected official receives the necessary authorization that may be required by the local municipal charter.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Thadd A. Gnocchi
Assistant Attorney General

RB/TAG


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