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Unofficial Opinion 95-25

Unofficial Opinion 95-25

November 3, 1995
To: 

Culpepper, Pfeiffer and Harpe

Re: 

Alteration of the by-laws of the chamber of commerce would not work a change in the membership of the Crisp County - Cordele Industrial Development Authority and the appropriate representative to the authority is the chamber chairman who held the position of president at the time of the creation of the authority.

In your capacity as legal representative of the Crisp County - Cordele Industrial Development Authority, you have requested an opinion of this office concerning the proper composition of the membership of the authority. According to your correspondence, the authority was created by local constitutional amendment which was duly ratified by the voters at the 1968 general election. See 1968 Ga. Laws 1757; 1969 Ga. Laws 4416. The amendment provided that the authority was to be composed of five members with one of the members being "the President of the Cordele-Crisp County Chamber of Commerce." 1968 Ga. Laws 1757. Two additional members were added to the authority in 1982, and these additions were properly ratified. See 1982 Ga. Laws 2570; 1983 Ga. Laws 5197. The authority continued in existence after the adoption of the 1983 Georgia Constitution. 1987 Ga. Laws 3548. Despite these changes, at no time was the position of the chamber of commerce representative altered.

You further advise that until February 10, 1992, the person holding the position of president of the chamber was the chief volunteer officer of that organization. In 1992, the chamber amended its by-laws such that the position formerly known as president was re-classified as chairman, and the position of chief executive officer, held by a paid chamber employee, was re-classified as president. Your question is whether the proper person to have membership on the authority is the chief volunteer officer now known as chairman, or the paid chamber employee now known as president.

Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people who possess the right to alter or reform it to accomplish the public good. Atlanta Journal v. Hill, 257 Ga. 398, 400 (1987). Public affairs are to be managed by public officials who remain accountable to the people. Id. at 401. In the Hill case, the supreme court held that the City of Atlanta could not by amending its city charter delegate to a group of private citizens subpoena powers, contempt powers, or the power to require sworn testimony. Id. To do so, according to the opinion, would improperly transfer the authority which the General Assembly conferred upon the city. Accord Tucker v. Board of Commissioners, 255 Ga. 472 (1986) (General Assembly by general law could not expand membership on power commission created by local constitutional amendment).

In light of the foregoing, it is my unofficial opinion that alteration of the by-laws of the chamber of commerce would not work a change in the membership of the Crisp County - Cordele Industrial Development Authority and that the appropriate representative to the authority is the chamber chairman, the chief volunteer officer who held the position of president at the time of the creation of the authority.

Prepared by:

WILLIAM M. DROZE
Assistant Attorney General