City Council

From Cvillepedia
Revision as of 14:33, 4 February 2015 by Seantubbs (talk | contribs) (Structure)
Jump to: navigation, search
City Council in January 2012

The Charlottesville City Council is a five-member elected body that serves as City's legislative and governing body. Each member is elected at-large, and serves a 4-year term. The next election is scheduled for November 3, 2015.

The overall direction of Charlottesville local government is provided through the City Council Vision.

Current Membership


Council chooses one of its own to serve as Mayor, and another to serve as Vice Mayor. Both are two-year terms. Satyendra Huja was elected to a second term as mayor on January 6, 2014, and Dede Smith became vice mayor.

The Mayor presides over meetings, calls special meetings, makes some appointments to advisory boards and serves as the ceremonial head of government. The Vice Mayor substitutes whenever the Mayor is unavailable.

While the Mayor has no more power than any other Councilor, the position carries with it the ability to set the agenda. That means the Mayor can control how the meeting flows.

See also: former mayors.


Council holds public meetings on the first and third Monday of each month. If one of those dates falls on a holiday, Council will meet on the Tuesday following the holiday. Meetings are held in City Council Chambers in City Hall and are televised on Cable Channel 10, as well as streamed online.

Council occasionally holds additional work sessions in the City Hall basement conference room.

Council guides policy decisions concerning city planning and finances, human development, public safety and justice, public utilities, and transportation.

Council has the power to pass ordinances, levy taxes, collect revenues, adopt a budget, make appropriations, issue bonds, borrow money, and provide for the payment of public debts.

City Council appoints four top City staff positions: City Manager, the Director of Finance, the City Assessor, and the Clerk of the Council. As of February 2010 Council has the opportunity to appoint a new City Manager, with the recent announcement that Gary O'Connell is stepping down to lead the Albemarle County Service Authority[1].


Councilors are paid $14,000 a year for their work. The Mayor is paid $16,000. On June 18, 2012, Council will vote whether to allow itself to receive health and dental insurance. Supporters of the move say it could increase the diversity of people who could spend the time as a Councilor. The consideration was made at the request of City Councilor Dave Norris. [2]


Regular meetings of City Council generally begin at 7:00 PM in City Council Chambers. They begin with the pledge of allegiance, followed by any awards, recognitions or announcements that need to be made. Then, Council will invite the public up to speak during for up to three minutes on any item that is not on the agenda. Depending on who is Mayor, this period will either last until everyone has had their chance, or until 7:35 PM. Afterwards, Councilor may choose to respond to the comments.

Next, the Council will consider the consent agenda, which is a list of resolutions and ordinances that Council has agreed in advance to approve. Beginning in 2003, Council moved this section to the front of the agenda[3] rather than at the conclusion of the meeting. Any item pulled from the agenda, however, will be deferred until after all regular items have been heard.

After the consent agenda is passed, Council will hear any number of resolutions, ordinances or reports. Public hearings are required for certain items to move forward.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the public is offered one more chance to make a public comment. Then, Councilors are asked if they have any other business they'd like to bring up. After that business has been discussed, the Mayor will call for Council to adjourn.

Different mayors have had different policies regarding taking public input. Some mayors have strictly held to the stated policy that says the public comment period stops at 7:35PM. However, Mayor Dave Norris generally allows comments until all have had a chance to speak.

Council frequently holds strategic retreats to address the City Council vision, including a February 2012 retreat at Wintergreen. [4]

Since 2010, Council also holds occasional town hall meetings in the community.


The current configuration of a 5-member City Council has been in place since the 1920's according to City Attorney Craig Brown. Before then there were 12 alderman and a Mayor. [5]

A referendum to move to a ward system passed in 1981 but did not pass in 1982. A group called the Citizens Committee to Study Council Changes had studied the changes and recommended a system with four wards and three at-large representatives.

In 2004, an Election Task Force was appointed to study changing council elections to November from May. Councilor Rob Schilling had wanted to try to expand the scope to also include expansion to a ward system, but was voted down 4-1. [6] Schilling said a system of four members elected by ward and 3 elected at-large would be representative of the city.

Charlottesville switched from May to November City Council elections in 2007. Councilors elected in May 2004 have shortened terms that end December 2007 (instead of June 2008). Councilors elected in May 2006 have shortened terms that end in December 2009 (instead of June 2010).

The first two Councilors to be elected in November were Holly Edwards and Satyendra Huja.

Former Members

Main article: List of City Councilors

External links

City Council Agendas (2009)


  1. Web. Charlottesville City Manager Gary O'Connell to lead Albemarle's water authority, Brian Wheeler, News Center, Charlottesville Tomorrow, January 28, 2010
  2. Web. In change, councilors could get same benefits as city workers, Graham Moomaw, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, June 11, 2012, retrieved June 12, 2012.
  3. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, 5 May 2003.
  4. Web. Council discusses city vision at retreat, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 4, 2012, retrieved February 6, 2011.
  5. E-mail. City Attorney Craig Brown, City of Charlottesville. "school board ward system." Message to Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow. February 3, 2015.
  6. Web. Poor and ignored? Schilling makes the case, Lisa Provence, The Hook, Better Publications LLC, March 18, 2014, retrieved February 3, 2015. Print. March 18, 2014 , 311, .