Uruguay 1966 Constitution (reinstated 1985, reviewed 2004)

Table of Contents

SECTION XVI. The Government and Administration of the Departments

Chapter I

Article 262

The Government and Administration of the Departments, with the exception of the services of public security, shall be exercised by a Departmental Board and an Intendant. They shall have their seats in the capital of each Department and shall initiate their functions sixty days after their election.

There may be a local authority in each community that possesses the minimum conditions that the law establishes. There may also be, one or more, in the urban section of the departmental capitals, if the Departmental Board so decides at the initiative of the Intendant.

The Law shall establish the departmental and the municipal matters, in order to limit the respective duties of the departmental and local authorities, as well as the juridical powers of their organs, without prejudice to that provided in Articles 273 and 275.

The Intendant, in agreement with the Departmental Board, may delegate to the local authorities the execution of specific duties, in their respective territorial circumscriptions.

The Departmental Governments may agree, amongst themselves and with the Executive Power, as well as with the Autonomous Entities and the Decentralized Services, concerning the organization and the provision of their own or common services and activities as much in their respective territories as in regional or interdepartmental form.

There shall be a Congress of Intendants, composed of those who will receive the title of this office or who have exercised it, with the goal of coordinating the policies of the Departmental Governments. The Congress, which may also conclude the agreements to which the preceding paragraph refers, shall communicate directly with the Powers of the Government.

Article 263

The Departmental Boards shall consist of thirty-one members.

Article 264

To be a member of a Departmental Board it is required to be eighteen years of age; [to have] natural or legal citizenship with three years of exercise and; be a native of the Department or be a resident in it for three years preceding at least.

Article 265

Members of the Departmental Boards shall hold office for four years. Three times as many alternates as the number of members shall be elected at the same time.

Article 266

The Intendants shall hold office for five years and may be re-elected, once only, with the requirement that to be a candidate they must resign at least three months in advance of the date of the election.

Article 267

To be an Intendant requires the same qualifications as for a Senator, and in addition, that of being a native of the Department or a resident thereof for at least three years prior to assuming office.

Article 268

Simultaneously with an Intendant four alternates shall be elected, who may be called upon in their order of election to perform the duties in the event of a vacancy in the post, a temporary impediment, or leave of absence of the principal. Non-acceptance of the post by an alternate shall mean the loss of his status as such, unless the call was to fill a temporary vacancy.

If the post of Intendant becomes permanently vacant and the list of alternates is exhausted, the Departmental Board shall elect a new principal by an absolute majority of its membership and for the remaining period of the current term. In the interim, or if the vacancy is temporary, the post shall be held by the President of the Departmental Board-provided he meets the provisions of Articles 266 and 267-and in his default, by the Vice Presidents if they meet the qualifications.

If on date he is to take office an Intendant has not been proclaimed elected or if the departmental election was nullified, the term of the outgoing Intendant shall be extended until the transfer of power is effected.

Article 269

The law, by a two-thirds vote of the full membership of each Chamber, may change the number of members on Departmental Boards.

Chapter II

Article 270

The Departmental Boards and Intendants shall be elected directly by the people, under the guaranties and in accordance with the rules of suffrage prescribed in Section III.

Article 271

The political parties shall select their candidates for Intendant through internal elections that shall be governed by the law approved by the vote of two-thirds of the members of each Chamber.

For the election of Municipal Intendant the votes in favor of each political party shall be accumulated by lema, however accumulation by sublema [faction] is prohibited.

The office of Municipal Intendant shall correspond to the candidate of the list most vote for of the political party most voted for.

The law, sanctioned by the majority stipulated in the first paragraph, may establish that each party may present a sole candidate for Municipal Intendant.

Article 272

The positions of members of the Departmental Boards shall be distributed among the various lemas proportionally to the electoral quantity of each, without prejudice to the provisions of the following paragraphs.

If the lema that won the office of Intendant received only a plurality of votes that lema shall be allotted the majority of seats on the Departmental Board, distributed proportionally among all its lists.

The remaining seats are to be distributed according to the system of integral proportional representation among those lemas which did not obtain representation under the previous allotment.

Chapter III

Article 273

The Departmental Board shall exercise the legislative and supervisory functions of the Departmental Government.

Its jurisdiction shall extend throughout the territory of the Department.

In addition to whatever the law may prescribe, the Departmental Board shall have these powers:

  1. To issue, at the instance of the Intendant or on its own initiative, such decrees and resolutions as it may deem necessary, within its competence;
  2. To approve the budgets submitted to its consideration by the Intendant, in accordance with the provisions of Section XIV;
  3. To create or fix the amount, at the instance of the Intendant, of taxes, excises, rates and charges for services offered, by vote of an absolute majority of its full membership;
  4. To requisition the intervention of the Tribunal of Accounts for advice concerning questions relating to Departmental Finances or Administration. Such requisition must always be made if requested by one-third of the members of the Board;
  5. To remove from office, at the instance of the Intendant, and by a majority vote of all its members, members of nonelective Local Boards;
  6. To adopt, within the first twelve months of its term of office, its budgets for salaries and expenditures, by a three-fifths vote of all its members, and transmit them to the Intendant for inclusion in the general budget.During the first five months of each year a three-fifths vote of the full membership may make such modifications as are deemed strictly necessary in the budget of salaries and expenditures;
  7. To appoint the employees of its staff, and discipline, suspend, or remove them in cases of inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance, in the latter case referring the matter to the courts;
  8. To grant concessions for local or departmental public services, at the instance of the Intendant, and by an absolute majority of its full membership;
  9. To create new Local Boards, at the instance of the Intendant;
  10. To consider requests for authorization or concurrence submitted by the Intendant;
  11. To petition the Legislative Power directly for amendments or additions to the Organic Law on Departmental Governments.

Chapter IV

Article 274

The Intendant exercises the executive functions of the Departmental Government.

Article 275

In addition to whatever the law may prescribe, his powers are as follows:

  1. To comply with and enforce the Constitution and the laws;
  2. To promulgate and publish the decrees sanctioned by the Departmental Board, issuing such regulations and resolutions as may be deemed appropriate for the administration thereof;
  3. To prepare the budget and submit it to the approval of the Departmental Board, in accordance with the provisions of Section XIV;
  4. To propose taxes, excises, and assessments; fix charges for the use or appropriation of departmental property or services and establish the rate schedules for public services to be charged by concessionaires or permittees;
  5. To appoint the employees of its staff, and discipline or suspend them. To remove them in case of inefficiency, neglect or malfeasance, on the authorization of the Departmental Board, which must take action within forty days. If it fails to act, the removal shall be considered as effected. In case of malfeasance the matter shall also be referred to the courts;
  6. To present drafts of decrees and resolutions to the Departmental Board and offer objections to those which the board approves, within ten days from the date of notification of passage;
  7. To give notice of property to be expropriated for reasons of public necessity or utility, with the approval of the Departmental Board;
  8. To appoint the members of the Local Boards, with the approval of the Departmental Board;
  9. To oversee public health and primary, secondary, preparatory, industrial and artistic education and propose to competent authorities suitable measures for their improvement.

Article 276

The Intendant represents the Department in its relations with the State and with other Departmental Governments and in the conclusion of contracts with public or private agencies.

Chapter V

Article 277

The Intendant shall sign decrees, resolutions, and communications together with the secretary or other official he selects, and if this requisite is lacking no one is compelled to obey them. Nevertheless, it may be provided that specified resolutions shall take effect pursuant to an act adopted in advance and meeting this requisite.

A Secretary shall be appointed by each Intendant, and he shall leave office with him, unless there is a new appointment, since he may be removed or temporarily replaced at any time.

Article 278

The Intendant may assign specific duties to special committees and delegate the powers necessary for carrying them out.

Article 279

The Intendant shall determine the jurisdiction of the departmental agencies and he may change their names.

Article 280

The departmental directors general shall perform the duties that the Intendant expressly delegates to them.

Chapter VI

Article 281

Decrees adopted by the Departmental Board, to be effective, must first be promulgated by the Intendant.

The latter may object to those deemed unsuitable, but the Departmental Board may sustain its position by a three-fifths vote of its full membership, and in such case the decree will take effect immediately.

If the Intendant does not return a decree within ten days after receipt, it shall be considered promulgated and is to be enforced as such.

Objections may not be made to budgets which have gone to the General Assembly by the procedure provided in Article 225.

Article 282

The Intendant may attend meetings of the Departmental Board and its committees and may take part in discussions but cannot vote.

Article 283

The Intendants or Departmental Boards may bring suit in the Supreme Court of Justice for any alleged injury to the autonomy of the Department, in the manner prescribed by law.

Article 284

Any member of the Departmental Board may request from the Intendant any information or data deemed necessary to fulfill his functions. The request must be made in writing through the intermediary of the President of the Departmental Board, who shall immediately transmit it to the Intendant.

If the Intendant does not furnish the information within a period of twenty days, the member of the Departmental Board may request it through the intermediary of the Board itself.

Article 285

The Board is empowered, by a resolution adopted by one-third of all its members, to cause the Intendant to appear before it in order that it may request and receive such information as it may deem suitable, for either legislative or supervisory purposes.

The Intendant may be accompanied by such officials of his administration as he deems necessary, or he may be represented by the highest-ranking official of the administrative office concerned, except when he is called to appear before the board because of noncompliance with the provisions of the second paragraph of the preceding article.

Article 286

The Departmental Board may appoint investigating committees to obtain such data as is considered necessary in carrying out its functions, and the Intendant and offices subordinate to him are required to furnish the data requested.

Chapter VII

Article 287

The number of members of the local authorities, which may be uni-personal or pluri-personal, their form of membership in the latter case, as well as the qualifications required to be a titular [member] of the same, shall be established by the law.

The Intendants and the members of the Departmental Boards may not be part of the local authorities.

Article 288

The law shall prescribe the conditions for the creation of the Local Boards and their powers, and by an absolute majority of votes of the full membership of each Chamber and at the initiative of the respective Departmental Government may broaden their scope of action in communities which though not the capital of a Department have over ten thousand inhabitants or are of special national interest for the development of tourist travel. The law may also, by meeting the same requirements, provide that the members of these Autonomous Local Boards shall be elected by the people.

Chapter VIII

Article 289

The office of Intendant is incompatible with any other public office or employment with the exception of teaching, or with any other personal situation in which a salary or remuneration is received for services to an enterprise under contract with the Departmental Government. An Intendant may not make contracts with the Departmental Government.

Article 290

Employees of a Departmental Government or persons receiving as salary or remuneration for services to private enterprises under contract with a Departmental Government may not be members of Departmental Boards or of Local Boards.

Neither may the officials mentioned in item four of Article 77 be members of these bodies.

Article 291

Intendants and members of the Departmental Boards or the Local Boards, during their term of office, are likewise prohibited from:

  1. Acting as Directors or administrators of enterprises which contract for works or supplies for a Departmental Government or for any other public agency related thereto;
  2. Handing or conducting business for themselves or for third parties with the Departmental Government.

Article 292

Violation of the provisions of the preceding articles shall result in immediate dismissal from office.

Article 293

The position of member of a Departmental Board or Local Board is incompatible with that of Intendant, but this provision shall not apply to members of Departmental Boards who are called upon to hold the position of Intendant temporarily. In this event, their functions as members of the Departmental Board will be suspended and the position occupied, during the suspension, by their alternates.

Article 294

The offices of Intendant and members of a Departmental Board are incompatible with the exercise of any other elective public office, regardless of its nature.

Chapter IX

Article 295

The positions of members of the Departmental Boards of the Local Boards shall be honorary.

Intendants shall receive such remuneration as may be fixed by the Departmental Board prior to their election the amount may not be changed during their term of office.

Article 296

Intendants and members of a Departmental Board may be impeached before the Chamber of Senators by a vote of one-third of the members of the Departmental Board, on the grounds provided in Article 93.

The Chamber of Senators may separate them from office by a two-thirds vote of its full membership.

Chapter X

Article 297

The sources of revenues of the Departmental Governments, decreed and administered by them, shall be the following:

  1. Taxes on urban and suburban real property, located within their jurisdiction, excepting in all cases the national supplementary taxes, in existence or subsequently imposed. Taxes on rural real property will be levied by the Legislative Power, but their collection and all proceeds, except from the supplementary taxes in existence or subsequently imposed, shall go to the Departmental Governments. The amount of the national supplementary taxes may not be greater than the taxes going to the departments;
  2. The tax on idle lands [baldios] and on inappropriate building construction in urban and suburban districts of cities, towns, villages, and populated centers;
  3. Taxes levied for the benefit of the Departmental Governments and those that may be imposed by law in the future for the same purpose on sources not enumerated in this article;
  4. Special levies for improvements to real estate benefited by departmental public works;
  5. Excises, fees and charges for the utilization, supply, or benefits obtained from services supplied by the Departmental Government, and special taxes on enterprises holding exclusively departmental concessions;
  6. Taxes on public entertainment, with the exception of those established by law for special purposes until they are repealed, and taxes on transport vehicles;
  7. Taxes on advertisements and announcements of all kinds. Excepted therefrom are press and radio advertising as well as political, religious, trade union, cultural and sports advertising and any others that the law may exempt by an absolute majority of the full membership of each Chamber;
  8. Profits obtained from games of chance already authorized or subsequently authorized by law, in such form and under the conditions established therein;
  9. Taxes on horse racing and other competitive sports in which mutual betting is used, with the exception of those exempted by law until it is repealed;
  10. Proceeds from fines:
    1. as established by the Departmental Government, until repealed or that may be established under its powers;
    2. as established by laws in effect, for the benefit of the Departmental Governments;
    3. that may be established by new laws, for the benefit of the Departmental Governments.
  11. Income from property owned by the Departmental Government and the proceeds from sales thereof;
  12. Gifts, inheritances and legacies made to it and accepted;
  13. The quota share in the percentage that, over the total amount of resources of the National Budget, the Budgetary Law establishes.

Article 298

The law, that shall require the initiative of the Executive Power and by the vote of the absolute majority of the total of the members of each Chamber, may:

  1. Without creating negative superimpositions, extend the sphere of application of the departmental taxes, as well as broaden the sources upon which the latter can devolve.
  2. Assign for the development of the interior of the country and for the execution of the policies of decentralization, a proportion [alícuota] of the national taxes collected outside of the Department of Montevideo. With the proceeds a budgetary fund shall be produced, allocated for the financing of the programs and plans to which the fifth paragraph of Article 230 refers. This proportion shall be proposed preceptively in the National Budget.
  3. Temporarily exonerate from national taxes, as well as to rebate their proportions, the businesses that locate [instalaren] themselves in the interior of the country.

Article 299

The decrees of the Departmental Governments creating or changing taxes shall not be enforced until ten days after publication in the Diario Oficial and they shall be published in a special section of the Register of Laws and Decrees.

They must also be published in at least two newspapers in the Department.

Article 300

The Executive Power, within fifteen days following their publication in the Diario Oficial, may appeal to the Chamber of Representatives against decrees of the Departmental Governments which create or change taxes, on grounds of the public interest. Such appeal is suspensive in effect.

If no action is taken on the appeal in the Chamber of Representatives, within sixty days after receipt, the appeal is considered void.

Within fifteen days after an appeal has been submitted to the Chamber of Representatives, it may request, once only, any necessary supplementary information, and the sixty-day period is interrupted until this is received.

A recess of the Chamber of Representatives interrupts any of the periods mentioned in the foregoing.

Article 301

The Departmental Governments may not issue certificates of Departmental Public Debt, nor borrow money or contract loans from international organizations or foreign institutions or governments, except at the instance of the Intendant, approved by the Departmental Board, based on a report by the Tribunal of Accounts, and with the approval of the Legislative Power by an absolute majority of the full membership of the General Assembly in joint session, within a period of sixty days, upon the expiration of which the approval shall be considered granted.

Contracts for any other type of loan shall require the initiative of the Intendant and approval by an absolute majority of votes of the full membership of the Departmental Board, following a report by the Tribunal of Accounts. If the period of the loan is to exceed the term of office of the Intendant who proposed it, a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the Departmental Board is required.

Article 302

Any surplus must be applied in full to special amortization of departmental obligations. If there are no obligations, it shall be used for the execution of public works or for remunerative investments through the adoption of a resolution by the Departmental Board, proposed by the Intendant and following a report by the Tribunal of Accounts.

Chapter XI

Article 303

Decrees of the Departmental Board and resolutions of the Intendant which are contrary to the Constitution or the laws, not susceptible of being taken before the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, shall be appealable to the Chamber of Representatives within fifteen days after their promulgation, by one-third of the members of a Departmental Board or by one thousand citizens registered in the Department. In the latter case, and when the decree appealed is for the purpose of increasing departmental revenues, the appeal shall not have suspensive effect.

If within sixty days following receipt of the facts by the Chamber of Representatives, the appeal is not acted upon, the appeal shall be considered as not having been taken.

The Chamber of Representatives, within fifteen days after it has been notified of the appeal, may request, once only, any desired supplementary information, and the period for action is interrupted until this has been received.

A recess of the Chamber of Representatives interrupts the foregoing periods.

Chapter XII

Article 304

The law, by an absolute majority of votes of the full membership of each Chamber, may introduce the referendum as a recourse against decrees of the Departmental Boards.

Likewise, by an absolute majority of the votes of the full membership of each Chamber, the law may introduce and regulate the right of popular initiative in affairs of the Departmental Government.

Article 305

Fifteen percent of the registered residents of a locality or district specified by law shall have the right of initiative before the organs of the Departmental Government in matters affecting that jurisdiction.

Article 306

The public force shall lend its cooperation to the Departmental Boards and Intendants and to the Local Boards, whenever this is required for the fulfillment of their functions.