Role of the Board of Supervisors

Newcomers and natives alike can find the Albemarle County system of government a bit confusing.  Here are a few points that may help:

Albemarle County has six political subdivisions, called magisterial districts, for electoral and other government representation. Besides White Hall, these are Jack Jouett, Rio, Rivanna, Samuel Miller, and Scottsville. Each district elects a member to a Board of Supervisors (BOS), the main decision-making body in the county, as well as a School Board member.  BOS members serve four-year terms, staggered so that every two years the voters elect candidates who will fill three of the seats. They meet twice a month, alternating times to accommodate as large a real-time audience as possible, and making proceedings available to citizens in various formats.

The Albemarle County Code serves as a kind of County Constitution, outlining the role of supervisors and all branches of the county government excepting school board and courts.  BOS authority touches just about everything civic with a few notable exceptions.

The BOS does have authority and responsibility for:

  • Hiring and supervising a County Executive, who conducts daily administration of the multiple county offices
  • Implementing the County’s Comprehensive Plan
  • Tackling policy issues including public safety, economic development, natural resources, waste management and water quality, zoning and land use, social services, transportation, and protecting quality of life for residents in both the Rural and Growth areas
  • Setting tax rates and passing a comprehensive budget
  • Appointing members of numerous county commissions and advisory groups, including the Planning Commission; the County Service Authority; the Economic Development Authority; and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority
  • Representing the BOS on many legislative panels such as a Police Department Citizens Advisory Committee and a Residential Development Impact Work Group, and committees advising on solid waste alternatives, and agricultural and forestal protections
  • In the White Hall district, the supervisor also participates in the Crozet Community Advisory Committee and in the intensive community-based Crozet Master Planning process
  • Maintaining working relationships with counterparts in the Virginia General Assembly, the City of Charlottesville, and other entities to advocate for the needs of Albemarle County

The BOS does not have direct authority over: 

  • County courts, which the state mandates and oversees (though voters do elect the county Commonwealth Attorney)
  • School policy and operations, which are the responsibility of the elected School Board
  • Hiring and supervision of County staff, which are the responsibility of the County Executive
  • Setting property assessments, which by law is done by an independent County Assessor
  • The City of Charlottesville, which is the county seat but has been an independent city with its own governance since 1899
  • State law also strictly limits the authority of local governments in a number of areas, including how they may raise money to fund local services (the Dillon rule) and many aspects of city-county revenue sharing agreements

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