Charter of the City of Charlottesville

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The City of Charlottesville obtained its present Charter from the Virginia General Assembly effective July 1, 1946. Originally established as a village and then a town, Charlottesville incorporated as a town in 1801 and a city in 1888. Charlottesville was governed by Board of Trustees, a Bicameral Common Council, then a Board of Alderman, and in 1928, the present Council-Manager form of government was established.

Charter

The Charter of the City of Charlottesville acts like a constitution for the city. It is the basic document that defines and codifies the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government. As with each city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Charlottesville has its own charter enacted by the Virginia General Assembly (in Richmond) which gives distinct governmental attributes.

Since Virginia is a "Dillon Rule" state, and not a "Home Rule" state, the Code of Virginia, §15.2-1100 specifies the powers held by municipal corporations, whether or not included in their charter. If there is any doubt about whether Virginia localities have specific authority, they didn’t. Required procedure for obtaining new charter or amendment can be found in Chapter 2, Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia.

The current charter was provided for the City of Charlottesville in 1946. Each of the 50 chapters defines a specific government institution and outlines its basic powers, functions, and its structure. Amendments to the current Charter of the City of Charlottesville are numerous, as is common of most municipal corporations. In Charlottesville's history, no fewer than three different charter documents have been used before and there have also been unsuccessful efforts to propose the adoption of alternate charters.

20180518 1946 Charter Council Manager.JPG

Structure

Though the local government is always subject to or defers to both federal and state laws; the charter allows residents the flexibility to choose the kind of government structure allowed by law for their community. The two principal forms of government used by Virginia towns and cities are Council-Manager and the Mayor-Council, also referred to as “city manager” or “strong mayor” forms of government.

Charlottesville’s current Council-Manager form of government is modeled after the organization of the business corporation, with its shareholders (voters) election of the board of directors (city council) which, in turn, appoints the chairman of the board (mayor) and hires the chief administrative officer (city manager). The council is the policy determining agency of the city. It passes ordinances, votes appropriations, and determines whether bonds shall be issued. After the policies have been made by the council, they are executed by the city manager. The duties of the council are legislative; those of the manager are administrative.

History of the Acts of Assembly

The General Assembly creates counties, towns, and cities by issuing specific charters to municipal corporations, or defining procedures for communities to incorporate. The official charter of a locality is the Acts of Assembly chapters that create and amend the charter. The following are various selected Acts passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia related to Charlottesville.[1]

1801 (town)

New Charter: Charlottesville incorporated as a town in 1801.

1815 (town)

Chapter 100 - An ACT to appoint additional Trustees for the Town of Charlottesville. (Passed January 15, 1816) The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia appointed additional Trustees for the Town of Charlottesville “Whereas the Trustees of the Town of Charlottesville, in the county of Albemarle, are so reduced, by death, resignations and removals, that there is not a sufficient number to proceed to business; by which the improvements and regulations of the said Town are much obstructed; for remedy whereof,…in John Kelly, John H. Craven, John Winn, Twyman Waytt, James Leitch, Nicholas Lewis, William Watson, Joseph Bishop, John R. Jones, John C. Ragland, Frank Carr and Alexander Garrett…appointed additional Trustees.”

1830 (town)

Chapter 211 of the Acts of Assembly of 1830 was to appoint commissioners to raise money by lottery for paving the streets of the town of Charlottesville in the county of Albemarle. (Passed March 31, 1831.) Opie Norris, John R. Jones, William A. Bibb, William D.Fitz and Andrew M'Kee were appointed commissioners to raise by lottery or lotteries any sum of money not exceeding twenty thousand dollars, for the purpose of paving the street of the town of Charlottesville in the county of Albemarle.

1851 (town)

The municipal authorities of the Town of Charlottesville consisted of a mayor and four alderman, who were elected annually on the fourth Saturday in February. Acts passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

1860 (town)

Chapter 305 of the Acts of Assembly of 1860, passed (March 14, 1860) and en-titled "an act to amend the charter and extend the corporate limits of the town of Charlottesville", provided the boundaries of the town and "shall be and is hereby made a town corporate, by the name and style of The Town of Charlottesville;..."[2]

1869

The Constitution of 1869, and in the enabling legislation passed in the 1869–1870 General Assembly session, required that each county be divided into townships, and the enabling act stipulated that the commissioners appointed to lay off the townships (later changed to magisterial districts) should not include therein any town or city with a population of 5,000 or more.

1870/1871 (town)

Population: 2,838

Chapter 153 of the Acts of Assembly of 1870-1871 provided a new charter for the Town of Charlottesville (approved March 28, 1871). The municipal authorities of the Town of Charlottesville consisted of a mayor and six alderman, who were elected annually on the fourth Saturday of June. [3] See also: CHAP. 217, An ACT to Provide a New Charter for The Town of Charlottesville, Approved March 28, 1871. [4]

1888 charter (city)

New Charter: Charlottesville incorporated as a city on September 1st 1888. The first city charter provided for a biennially elected mayor and twelve member board of alderman (three alderman were elected from each of the four wards); and seven other elected officers. (Charter, 1899-1900, c. 1012; repealed, 1946, c. 384.)[5]

From 1722 until 1892, towns became cities only by act of the General Assembly, which issued a city charter in the form of a statute; after 1892 a town could also incorporate as a city by petition to the circuit court.

1891/1892 (city)

Chapter 658 of the Acts of Assembly of 1891/1892 provided an ACT to amend the charter of the city of Charlottesville. (approved March 3, 1892.)

1900 charter (city)

New Charter: Approved March 3, 1900. Chapter 1012 [6] of the Acts of Assembly of 1899-1900 provided a new charter which organized the City of Charlottesville under a mayor-council government (approved March 3, 1900). The 1900 charter and mayor-council form of government remained in place until it was superseded by the 1922 Charter.

1902 (city)

Charlottesville became a city of the second-class in 1902.

1916 (city)

On August 1, 1916, Charlottesville became a city of the first-class with the annexation of over 2,500 acres of Albemarle county territory and suburbs surrounding the city. More than tripling in land size, the city's the population exceeded 10,000.

Notes:
The Virginia Constitution of 1902 defined first-class cities as those having a population of 10,000 and required such city's Legislative government to consist of a two chamber city council composed of 4 Alderman and 8 Councilmen.
The legislatures of 1914 and 1916 gave the cities and towns the right to adopt any one of three forms of government: (1) The general councilmanic plan, as carried into the present Code under section 2936; (2) the modified commission plan as carried into the Code under section 2938; and (3) the city manager plan, as carried into the Code under section 2942. [7]

1922 charter (city)

New Charter: Chapter 109 of the Acts of Assembly of 1922 provided a new charter for the City of Charlottesville. (Charter, 1922, c. 109; c. 411; repealed, 1946, c. 384.)

Chapter 411 of the Acts of Assembly of 1922 amended and re-enacted acts of the charter of the city of Charlottesville, and to provided a charter with special form of government known as “Modified Commission Form.” This special form of government, as provided by the Code of Virginia of 1919, and known as the Modified Commission Form, was adopted by the qualified voters on December 17, 1920. This 1922 Charter was repealed and replaced by the 1946 Charter.

1946 charter (city)

Current charter for the City of Charlottesville (Charter, 1946, c. 384.)

New Charter: Chapter 384 of the Acts of Assembly of 1946 repealed all previous charters and provided a new charter organizing the City of Charlottesville under a council-manager government, a change from the Modified Commission form of government that had been in place since the 1922 Charter. Basic features of current council-manager government under the 1946 charter: The city-manager, city council, and mayor work together to enact budgets, to draft and enforce legislation, to provide city services, and to oversee city departments and appoint departmental heads.

City council

  • All five members elected by citywide popular vote; staggered 4-year terms.
  • Responsible for appointing a city-manager.
  • Responsible for drafting and passing legislation and city ordinances.
  • Responsible for approving the city budget proposed by the city-manager.

Mayor

  • Member of the city council; council elects the mayor for one year at a time term.
  • Sets the agenda; council can add items as it chooses.
  • Votes at city-council meetings.
  • Does not possess veto powers.
  • Ceremonially represents the city on the state, national, and international levels.

City-manager

  • Appointed and dismissed by city council.
  • Responsible for drafting and proposing a city budget.
  • Responsible for amending the city budget as dictated by city council.
  • Responsible for appointing departmental heads and directors (with the approval of city council).
  • Responsible for implementing and enforcing council policies and legislative initiatives.

Hiring process: The city-manager is not an elected position. Rather, the holder of this office serves at the pleasure of the council, which retains the legal right to dismiss and replace the city-manager. The hiring process for a city-manager is comparable to that of a corporate CEO. It begins with general discussions amongst city council members, often in consultation with voters and professional consultants. After a hiring notice is drafted and distributed to professional organizations, the process then moves to a multistage interview process that includes a review of applications and onsite interviews with qualified candidates. The process ends with a vote taken by city council.

Amendments to current charter [8]

1948, c. 124 (§§ 3, 20, 45-a [added])

1950, c. 413 (§§ 5, 14, 15, 20, 22, 27, 32)

1958, c. 111 (§ 20)

1960, c. 37 (§ 5.1 [added])

1960, c. 230 (§ 14-a [added])

1962, c. 56 (§ 50.1 [added])

1962, c. 332 (§§ 5.1, 14-a, 14-b [added])

1962, c. 463 (§ 5)

1964, c. 137 (§§ 5, 33, 50.1)

1970, c. 93 (§§ 14-a, 27, 50.1, 50.2 [added], 50.3 [added])

  • Editor's Note: Chapter 84 of the Acts of Assembly of 1970 was the charter for the merger of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, provided the consolidation agreement was ratified and approved. The consolidation agreement did not pass; therefore, the charter is not in effect.

1972, c. 184 (§§ 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 24, 29, 32 [repealed], 33, 43)

1973, c. 22 (§ 33)

1973, c. 359 (§ 14-a)

1974, c. 7 (§ 5)

1978, c. 709 (§ 50.4 [added])

1989, c. 122 (§ 50.5 [added])

1990, c. 28 (§ 50.4)

1990, c. 302 (§ 50.6 [added])

2006, cc. 268, 311 (§ 50.7 [added])

2010, cc. 147, 217 (§ 6)

2020, cc. 813, 814 (§§ 1, 2 [repealed] 5, 5.01 [added], 5.1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 [repealed], 11 [repealed], 12, 13 [repealed], 14, 14-b [repealed], 15 [repealed], 17, 18 [repealed], 19, 20, 24 [repealed], 25, 26 [repealed], 27 [repealed], 28, 29, 31 [repealed], 33 [repealed], 35 [repealed], 36 through 40, 42, 43, 45 [repealed,] 45-a through 48, 50.1, 50.2, 50.3, 50.4, 50.5, 50.6, 50.7, and 51)

From 1972 until 2006, City Council and the City School Board elections were held in May of even-numbered years. In 2004, City Council, by ordinance, changed the City Council City School Board elections from May, as provided for by charter, to November of odd-numbered years, beginning in 2007. [9]

Proposed alternatives

No fewer than four different charter documents have been used before, and there have been unsuccessful efforts at several points in Charlottesville's history to propose the adoption of alternate charters.

1908 referendum

Chapter xxx of the Acts of the Assembly of 1908 was to provide a new charter to the city of Charlottesville, approved by Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia March 14, 1908, it was subsequently defeated by the voters of Charlottesville.

1912 amendment

Commission government: The city council, at its special meeting the evening of February 13, 1912 approved the amendments to the charter and requested the senator and delegates from this district in the Legislature to have them enacted into law. The effect of these amendments would be to provide for four commissioners, elected by the people, to take over the administrative functions then enjoyed by the council and to leave the body in possession of the merely legislative power, including power to levy taxes, impose licenses and to make appropriation of the revenue as at present. [10]

1916 referendum

The proposed 1916 charter, changing the form of government to Commission-Manager, was defeated by voters of Charlottesville on May 19, 1916, due in part to the complications arising from annexation of the new territory of the city.

Main article: City of Charlottesville charter referendum, 1916

1970

Chapter 84 of the Acts of Assembly of 1970 was the charter for the merger of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, provided the consolidation agreement was ratified and approved. The consolidation agreement did not pass; therefore, the charter is not in effect.

Charter Amendments (2020)

HB 1107 Charlottesville, City of; amending charter, city organization. The following amendments to the 1946 Charter were introduced by Delegate Sally L. Hudson (D) - House District 57 and approved by the General Assembly on April 7, 2020. Amendments went into effect on July 1, 2020:

Compensation

By Ordinance, Councilors made $18,000 a year and the mayor made $20,000 a year; the maximum range allowed under state guidelines.[11] The 2020 Charter amendment brought the city code in alignment with ordinances passed by the Charlottesville City Council (2004-2006).

Prior to the 2020 amendment, the Charter set an annual salary not to exceed thirty-six hundred dollars ($3,600.00) for each council member; except the mayor was to receive a salary not to exceed forty-eight hundred dollars ($4,800.00).
December 3, 2018 - On a motion by Wes Bellamy, seconded by Kathy Galvin, the Charlottesville City Council (2018-2019) voted 3-2 to allow the city to operate outside of state guidelines for mayor and councilor pay. Delegates Toscano and Bell opposed city charter changes, dooming salary proposal for the 2019 General Assembly session.[12]
Context: The annual salary for Virginia senators is $18,000.[13] The annual salary for Virginia delegates is $17,640.[14]The current Albemarle County Board of Supervisors annual salary is $14,542. The chair receives a yearly stipend of $1,800. The vice chair receives $35 for every meeting he or she chairs.[15]

Elections

In 2007, the Charlottesville Board of Elections switched council and local elections from May to November without conducting a referendum on the question.[16] The 2020 Charter amendment is a text change to match current city election dates as set by ordinance of the Charlottesville City Council (2004-2006) and the Charlottesville Board of Elections.

Council powers

Election of City manager

In lieu of the of the whole city council (five members), the city manager is to be appointed by a majority vote of the city council. (§ 5.d)

Vagrancy

Council's power To restrain and punish drunkards, vagrants, mendicants and street beggars. (Repealed, text is simply deleted from the Code)

Historical Context: The Vagrancy Act of 1866 remained on Virginia's books in some form until 1904, when a new law – An Act in Relation to Vagrancy – was passed. It made vagrancy a misdemeanor punishable by a bond payment and good conduct for one year.

Budget Fiscal year; budget; levy of taxes

The city's fiscal year shall begin on July 1 of every year and conclude on June 30 of the following year. (Added)

§ 8. Vacancy in office of mayor or councilor; vacation of office

Whenever, from any cause, a vacancy shall occur in the office of mayor, the council shall elect one of its members as mayor for the remainder of the term. (under the previous charter, the the council was given the option of filling the position of mayor outside of the council body.)

Salaries

The 2020 Charter amendment brought the city code in alignment with ordinances passed by the Charlottesville City Council (2004-2006). The current (January 2020) maximum pay in Charlottesville is $18,000 for councilors and $20,000 for the mayor. Charlottesville has one of the highest average salaries for council members in Virginia. State code sets salary limits for members of city councils based on population, ranging from $11,000 to $30,000. laws of the Commonwealth. Elected city school boards are governed by the same guidelines.

References

  1. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008885427
  2. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/ssd?id=njp.32101073363358;seq=313;num=305
  3. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101073363358;view=1up;seq=313 Acts passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia., 1870/71.
  4. https://books.google.com/books?id=e-hJAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA305&ots=iUeo-bGZWR&dq=CHAPTER.%20217%2C%20An%20ACT%20to%20Provide%20a%20New%20Charter%20for%20the%20Town%20of%20Charlottesville%2C%20Approved%20March%2028%2C%201871&pg=PA305#v=onepage&q=CHAPTER.%20217,%20An%20ACT%20to%20Provide%20a%20New%20Charter%20for%20the%20Town%20of%20Charlottesville,%20Approved%20March%2028,%201871&f=false
  5. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.a0001738111&view=1up&seq=419&q1=city%20of%20charlottesville
  6. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.a0001738178;view=1up;seq=1137 Acts passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the year 1899.
  7. https://cite.case.law/va/138/1/
  8. Web. Code of Virginia, Charters, Charlottesville, City of, retrieved Feb. 10, 2021.
  9. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, July 19, 2004, page 4.
  10. Web. AMENDMENTS TO CITY CHARTER, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, February 14, 1912, retrieved Decemberr 19, 2021 from University of Virginia Library VERGO. Print. page 1.
  11. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter14/section15.2-1414.6/
  12. http://www.charlottesville.org/home/showdocument?id=63920
  13. "General Information: Senate Template:Webarchive."
  14. "[http://legis.virginia.gov/1_home/gen_info_house.html General Information: House of Delegates Template:Webarchive.
  15. Web. Sec. 2-202 - Compensation of the Board of Supervisors, Albemarle County, County Code, Municode, retrieved January 1, 2020.
  16. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter2/section24.2-222.1/