Sandbox-December 3, 2018 City Council regular meeting

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History of Charlottesville city government

Seal of the City of Charlottesville

Charlottesville is an independent city located in Albemarle County, Commonwealth of Virginia. It is considered a county-equivalent. According to the United States Census Bureau 46,553 people lived within the city limits in 2020. The village of Charlottesville was established in 1762, incorporated as a town in 1801 and as a city in 1888.

City government

Since 1928, the city of Charlottesville has utilized a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council, which includes the mayor, serves as the city's primary legislative body, appoints an executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council's policy and legislative initiatives.

All powers granted to Virginia local governments are vested in an elected governing body, city or town council, or county board of supervisors. Most cities in the United States with populations over one million use a strong mayor system, in which the mayor – instead of a city manager – serves as the city's chief executive.

Antebellum period

Established in 1762, Charlottesville was named for Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818), consort of King George III of England. The area grew as a tobacco-trading point, the county seat of Albemarle County, and later became famous as the home of the University of Virginia and three presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.

In 1781, during the Revolutionary War, all order books except the first and many loose papers between 1748 and 1781 were destroyed by British general Banastre Tarleton’s raid on Charlottesville.

In the British raid under general Banastre Tarleton on Charlottesville in 1781, during the Revolutionary War, all the Albemarle County Courthouse order books (except the first) and many loose papers (1748-1781) were destroyed.

19th century

Provisional Municipality of Charlottesville

After the Civil War,


See also: List of former mayors

The mayor is a member of the city council chosen by the councilors. They preside over council meetings and official city ceremonies - essentially the council’s president. The mayor also represents the city on state, national, and international levels. The current Mayor of Charlottesville is XXX (nonpartisan). XXX assumed office on January 3, 2022.

City manager

See also: List of former city managers

The city manager is the city's chief executive. This is not an elected position. The city manager is appointed and approved by the city council. 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 following council approval. Charlottesville's current city manager is (Vacant).

City council

See also: List of previous city council officials

The Charlottesville City Council is the city's primary legislative body. Council makes policy in the areas of city planning and finances, human services, public safety and justice, public utilities, and transportation. It has specific powers to pass ordinances, levy taxes, collect revenues, adopt a budget, make appropriations, issue bonds, and provides payment of public debts.[1]

The [current city charter] provides that the council appoints and removes the city manager, city assessor, the clerk of Council and members of major policing making boards and commissions.

Click here for a current list of council members

Other elected officials

Clerk of the Circuit Court Commissioner of Revenue Sheriff Treasurer Commonwealth’s Attorney City School Board Members Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District Directors

Click here for a current list of other city officeholders



See also: City elections in Charlottesville (2021)

The city of Charlottesville held general elections for commissioner of revenue, commonwealth's attorney, sheriff, and treasurer on November 2, 2021. A primary was scheduled for June 8, 2021. The filing deadline for this election was March 25, 2021, and the filing deadline for independent and minor party candidates was August 13, 2021.

Two seats for Charlottesville City Council; three seats on the Charlottesville School Board; four constitutional offices - Commonwealth's Attorney, Treasurer, Sheriff and Commissioner of the Revenue and other city offices were up for election.

Census information


The city's budget process operates by fiscal years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. The city manager is responsible for drafting a proposed annual budget, while the city council is responsible for revising and adopting the budget after holding a public hearing.

The City Manager’s Proposed Budget, along with the School’s Budget, is presented to City Council at the first Council meeting in March. The City is required to present a balanced budget where revenues (money that is received from taxes, fess, intergovernmental sources, etc.) equal expenditures. A series of City Council work sessions and public hearings are held during the months of March and April. The City and School budget is formally adopted by City Council each year no later than April 15th.

The city's budget process operates by fiscal years running from July 1 through June 30 of the next year. The city charter gives responsibility for drafting a budget to the city manager, who submits the budget draft to the city council no later than 60 days before the end of the fiscal year.

After the city manager presents the budget, a hearing is held to allow for public input in the budget process. The city council must approve a final budget no later than 30 days before the end of the current fiscal year.

The council shall cause to be prepared by the City Manager an annual budget containing all proposed expenditures and estimated revenues and borrowing for the ensuing year, and at least thirty (30) days thereafter shall order a city levy as provided for by state law and sections 14, 19 and 20 of the Charter. The Council shall adopt or approve the annual budget and shall make such city levy prior to April fifteenth in each year. City Code Sec. 11-2 Municode, "Chapter 11 - FINANCE," accessed December 27, 2021

FY 2023 Budget: First Budget and Tax Rate Public Hearing held on March 21, 2022; Second Public Hearing held on April 4, 2022.

Fiscally standardized cities data

Historical total revenue and expenditure

Total revenue and expenditure in City of Charlottesville

Total revenue and expenditure in Charlottesville, FY2010-2020

City of Charlottesville salaries and pensions over $95,000

Ballot measures

Charlottesville is a charter city, and its initiative process follows state law. A charter is the municipal equivalent of a constitution. The powers that localities in Virginia can exercise are constrained by a doctrine known as Dillon’s Rule. The powers that municipalities can exercise are governed by: local charters and ordinances, the state constitution, state law, federal law, and federal and state court decisions. The Virginia Constitution is the fundamental governing document of the state of Virginia. Click here for details on laws governing local ballot measures in Virginia.

Noteworthy events

2022: Ongoing search for a permanent city manager

Council has said it will begin a formal search for a permanent city manager in April.

2022: Budget for fiscal year 2023

City’s budget for fiscal year 2023 must be finalized in March.

2021: High turnover for high-ranking officials

Marc Woolley rejected the interim city manager job, less than a month after accepting the role that would have made him the sixth person to hold the post since 2018.

2021: Lawsuit filed over Robert E. Lee statue award

Two unsuccessful bidders for Charlottesville’s statue of Robert E. Lee have filed a lawsuit against the city, city council, and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

2021: Affordable housing

Charlottesville has a shortage of over 3,300 affordable rentals, record high rents, and long-time residents getting priced out. Council reconsidering housing and zoning rules.

2021: Former City Manager files lawsuit against city officials

On xx, 2020, former Charlottesville City Manager Tarron Richardson filed a federal lawsuit against City Council as well as Mayor Nikuyah Walker, councilor Heather Hill, City Attorney Lisa Robertson and former City Attorney and former Interim City Manager John Blair for allegedly violating the First Amendment.

2021: Former Police Chief files complaints

Former Police Chief RaShall Brackney is demanding $3 million from the city of Charlottesville and has lodged a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that her September 1, 2021 termination was unjust. Brackney also filed a discrimination complaint with the NAACP and a complaint of a “hostile work environment” with the city’s Department of Human Resources.

2020: Payne v. City of Charlottesville

2020: Events and activity following the death of George Floyd

During the weekend of May 29-31, 2020, demonstrations and protests took place in cities nationwide, including Charlottesville, following the death of George Floyd.

2019: Credit card use policy for city officials

2018: city’s overdue updated comprehensive plan

The city’s comprehensive plan must be updated every five years per state law, was due in 2018.

2017: Events and activity following the Unite the Right rally

Local Government

The Code of Virginia states that governing bodies shall be composed of between three and eleven members. Most governing bodies have four-year terms of office. City and town councils are presided over by mayors who may be directly elected or chosen by the council. Counties are presided over by a chair of the board of supervisors.