It assigns its quota of taxes (contingent) to each arrondissement, authorizes the sale, purchase or exchange of departmental property, superintends the management thereof, authorizes the construction of new roads, railways or canals, and advises on matters of local interest.
The general council controls the departmental administration of the prefect, and its decisions on points of local government are usually final.
There are (I) the maison darrlt, temporary places of durance in every arrondissement for persons charged with offences, and those sentenced to more than a years imprisonment who are awaiting transfer to a maison centrale; (2) the maison de justice, often part and parcel of the former, but only existing in the assize court towns for the safe custody of those tried or condemned at the assizes; (3) departmental prisons, or inaisons de correction, for summary convictions, or those sentenced to less than a year, or, if provided with sufficient cells, those amenable to separate confinement; (4) maisons centrales and pnitenciers agricoles, for all sentenced to imprisonment for more than a year, or to hard labor, or to those condemned to travaux forces for offences committed in prison.
Besides receiving taxes, they pay the creditors of the state in their departments, conduct all operations affecting departmental loans, buy and sell government stock (rentes) on behalf of individuals, and conduct certain banking operations.
Liabilities on behalf of communes and public establishments, including departmental services 17,366,520