Sandbox-City Government

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City of Charlottesville government is autonomous and entirely independent of any county or any other political subdivision. It does not have the same boundaries with or is not subject to taxation by any county or school district, and is not liable for any county or school district indebtedness. #Census information


Charlottesville is an independent city located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is considered a county-equivalent. As of July 1, 2017, its estimated population was 48,019, [1]while the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) contains over 235,000. Charlottesville was chosen as the courthouse seat of Albemarle County in 1761, created as a town in 1762 and incorporated as an independent city in 1888. Charlottesville was made an independent city, 2nd class, from Albemarle County on July 10, 1902. As a result of eight annexations, the most recent of which was in 1968, the City is 10.4 square miles.

City government

See also: Council-manager government The city of Charlottesville utilizes a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city's primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council's policy and legislative initiatives.

City council

The Charlottesville City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances. Council members are elected at large by the voters. The mayor is elected by the city council.


The city council consists of five members including the mayor. All are elected at-large. A current list of council members can be found here.


  • city manager
  • clerk of council/ chief of staff
  • city attorney
  • school superintendent


The mayor is a member of city council and is elected by the city council to two-year terms. He or she presides over council meetings and official city ceremonies. The mayor's principal responsibility is presiding over council meetings and representing the city in various ways. The mayor does not have any responsibility for administering the affairs of the city. The direction of the city's administration is the responsibility of the city manager.

Dillon’s Rule

A rule of judicial interpretation of the legal powers of local government in Virginia. Local government has only those powers that have been explicitly granted by state government.

City manager

The city manager, who serve at the pleasure of the elected council, is the city's chief executive. The responsibilities of the city manager include overseeing the city's day-to-day operations, planning and implementing the city's operating budget, and appointing departmental directors and other senior-level positions.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the Charlottesville City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate, and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council. For a full list of Charlottesville’s city boards and commissions, see here

Related Charlottesville offices

Constitutional officers

Elected Officials: The Virginia Constitution directs that each county and city will elect a sheriff, a clerk of the circuit court, a commonwealth’s attorney, a commissioner of the revenue, and a treasurer. Each office operates separately from the local government. Charlottesville’s five Constitutional Officers are elected by the voters at large. Each officer serves a four-year term, except for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, who serves an eight-year term. Charlottesville has the same set of constitutional officers as Albemarle County, although a city’s charter may eliminate some of these positions. In addition, their duties may be more restricted. For example, Charlottesville has its own police forces. Unlike the sheriff in most counties, the city sheriff does not have the responsibility for general law enforcement but serves as keeper of the city jail and bailiff of the courts. As in counties, city constitutional officers are elected at large.

  1. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is elected for an eight-year term and serves as the chief administrative officer of court operations The Clerk serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal court cases. In this latter capacity, the Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes. The Clerk is responsible for managing and keeping records of court proceedings; collecting fines; recording and keeping land records and transfer of land ownership records such as deeds and mortgages; the custody of subdivision plats and land tract maps; the sale of hunting, fishing, and marriage licenses; and administering oaths and keeping disclosure statements.
  2. The Treasurer is elected for a four-year term and is responsible for the collection, custody, and disbursement of county funds. They are also responsible for the custody of certain state funds which flow through the county offices. Under several optional forms of government, the Treasurer is replaced by an appointed Director of Finance.
  3. The Commissioner of Revenue is elected for a four-year term and is charged with assessing local taxes including the preparation of the real estate and personal property tax books and tax bills. Like the Treasurer, under several optional forms of government the Commissioner of the Revenue is replaced by an appointed Director of Finance.
  4. The Commonwealth's Attorney is elected for a four-year term and is the state’s attorney for the prosecution of local criminal offenses.
  5. The Sheriff is elected for a four-year term. The Office of the Sheriff is responsible for handling civil process of legal papers, inmate transportation, mental patient transportation for the Charlottesville Police Department through a cooperative agreement, and provides security for Charlottesville Circuit and General District Courts. ] With the establishment of the Charlottesville Police Department, the Office of the Sheriff is relieved from criminal law enforcement activities, including maintaining order at meetings of the City Council as directed by the mayor.

School Board

The Constitution of Virginia places the responsibility for the supervision of schools in each school division with a School Board. Prior to 1994, all the School Boards serving city school divisions were appointed by city council. However, as a result of the 1992 legislation most of Virginia’s cities established a process for the election of school board members. An amendment to Charlottesville’s charter establishes a process for election of school board members at-large by the voters. Charlottesville’s city council is responsible for the appointment of a division School Superintendent from a list of persons certified to be eligible for such a position by the State Board of Education. The School Superintendent is responsible for a variety of administrative and instructional functions, including the employment of teachers and the supervision of educational programs.[2]

Virginia Congressional Delegation

Virginia State Legislature

Virginia state executive offices



See also: 2018 election The city of Charlottesville held general elections for city council on May 1, 2018.


See also: 2017 election The city of Charlottesville held elections for commissioner of revenue, commonwealth attorney, sheriff, and treasurer on November 7, 2017. A primary election took place on June 13, 2017. The filing deadline for candidates who wished to run in the primary was March 30, 2017. The filing deadline for independent candidates was June 13, 2017. 2016

Census information


A Referendum is a direct public vote at an election on a specific issue.


Budget-Annual statement of a local government’s revenues and expenditures prepared by the manager and enacted by the local governing body. The budget must provide for balanced expenditures and revenues.


Highlights from the 2018 adopted budget included:


  • The assessed value of commercial properties in Charlottesville increased almost 30 percent, which the city assessor said will cause taxes on those properties to also increase about 30 percent, depending on the tax rate.[3]


  • Charlottesville's adopted operating budget for fiscal year 2007 was $ 142,556,639, a 1.11% increase the over prior year.


Issues in the city

City website

  • City council members are listed with contact information.
  • Meeting minutes are posted, along with schedules and guidelines for meeting participation.
  • Taxes are payable online.
  • Tax rates are posted for real estate taxes and personal property taxes.
  • Bid opportunities are posted.
  • Bid awards are posted.
  • Administrative officials are listed with contact information within department pages.
  • Budgets are posted.
  • Audits are available.
  • The city posts its lobbying agenda.
  • Zoning information and maps are posted.
  • Building permits are posted.
  • The amount spent on Taxpayer-funded lobbying is not posted.
  • No information is available on public records requests.

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External links

|Charlottesville official website |Office of the Mayor |City Council | City Budget City Charter and Code