Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 14. Governing Bodies of Localities

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 15.2-1400. Governing bodies.

A. The qualified voters of every locality shall elect a governing body for such locality. The date, place, number, term, and other details of the election shall be as specified by law, general or special. Qualification for office is provided in Article 4 (§ 15.2-1522 et seq.) of Chapter 15.

B. The governing body of every locality shall be composed of not fewer than three nor more than 11 members.

C. Chairmen, mayors, supervisors, and councilmen are subject to the prohibitions set forth in §§ 15.2-1534 and 15.2-1535.

D. A governing body may punish or fine a member of the governing body for disorderly behavior.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 24.2-222 and 24.2-222.1, any city or town charter, or any other provision of law, general or special, beginning with any election held after January 1, 2022, elections for mayor, members of a local governing body, or members of an elected school board shall be held at the time of the November general election for terms to commence January 1.

F. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, in a locality that imposes district-based or ward-based residency requirements for members of the governing body, the member elected from each district or ward shall be elected by the qualified voters of that district or ward and not by the locality at large.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 199, § 15.1-37.4; 1982, c. 297; 1983, c. 595; 1995, c. 249; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 103, 225.

§ 15.2-1401. Powers granted localities vested in their governing bodies.

Unless otherwise clearly indicated by the context in which the provisions relating thereto are set forth, all powers granted to localities shall be vested in their respective governing bodies.

1962, c. 623, § 15.1-7; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1402. Declared to be body politic of Commonwealth; seal.

Every locality of this Commonwealth is hereby declared to be a body politic of the Commonwealth and may have a seal and alter the same at its pleasure.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1403. Governing body to be continuing body.

Every governing body of a locality shall be a continuing body, and no measure pending before such body shall abate or be discontinued by reason of expiration of the term of office or removal of any or all members of the governing body.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1404. How localities may sue or be sued; arbitration.

Every locality may sue or be sued in its own name in relation to all matters connected with its duties. The process instituting suit against a locality shall be served as provided in § 8.01-300.

The governing body of any locality may enter into a written agreement to submit any existing controversy to arbitration and may execute a contract which contains a provision to submit to arbitration any controversy thereafter arising.

Code 1950, § 15-3; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-508; 1968, c. 422; 1985, c. 416; 1987, c. 483; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1405. Immunity of members of local governmental entities; exception.

The members of the governing bodies of any locality or political subdivision and the members of boards, commissions, agencies and authorities thereof and other governing bodies of any local governmental entity, whether compensated or not, shall be immune from suit arising from the exercise or failure to exercise their discretionary or governmental authority as members of the governing body, board, commission, agency or authority which does not involve the unauthorized appropriation or misappropriation of funds. However, the immunity granted by this section shall not apply to conduct constituting intentional or willful misconduct or gross negligence.

1987, cc. 261, 290, § 15.1-7.01; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1406. Compensation of governing bodies.

The compensation of governing bodies and their chairmen, vice-chairmen, mayors and vice-mayors shall be determined as provided in Article 1.1 (§ 15.2-1414.1 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 15.2.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1407. Administrative leave for certain members of governing bodies.

Any duly elected member of a governing body who is an employee of that locality may receive administrative leave each year in addition to his annual and sick leave.

Code 1950, § 15-5; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-13; 1987, c. 432; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1408. Restrictions on activities of former officers and employees by certain counties and cities.

A. The term "officer or employee," as used in this section, includes members of local governing bodies, county or city officers and employees, and individuals who receive monetary compensation for service on or employment by agencies, boards, authorities, sanitary districts, commissions, committees, and task forces appointed by the local governing body.

B. In the Counties of Bedford, Fauquier, James City, Pittsylvania, and Stafford and the Cities of Charlottesville and Virginia Beach, the governing body, by ordinance, may prohibit former officers and employees, for one year after their terms of office have ended or employment ceased, from providing personal and substantial assistance for remuneration of any kind to any party, in connection with any proceeding, application, case, contract, or other particular matter involving the county or city or an agency thereof, if that matter is one in which the former officer or employee participated personally and substantially as a county or city officer or employee through decision, approval, or recommendation.

C. In the City of Richmond, the governing body, by ordinance, may prohibit former officers and employees, for one year after their terms of office have ended or employment has ceased, from representing a client or acting in a representative capacity on behalf of any person or group, for compensation, on matters related to ordinances, contracts, proceedings, applications, cases, or other matters of any nature involving any agency, department, or office of local government in which the former officer or employee served or was employed during the one-year period immediately prior to the termination of employment or service. This prohibition shall be in addition to any other prohibition that may be provided by law.

1991, c. 582, § 15.1-29.22; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 945; 2005, cc. 257, 289; 2019, cc. 111, 472.

§ 15.2-1409. Investigations by governing bodies.

The governing body of any locality may make such investigations relating to its government affairs as it deems necessary, may employ financial, legal and other personnel it deems necessary to assist in such investigations, may order the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers and may administer oaths. Such governing bodies may apply to the circuit court for their locality for a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum against any person refusing to appear and testify or refusing to produce books, papers or records as ordered by such governing bodies and the judge of such court shall, upon good cause shown, cause the subpoenas to be issued. Any person failing to comply with any such subpoena shall be subject to punishment for contempt by the court issuing the subpoena.

Code 1950, § 15-394; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-801; 1980, c. 335; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1410. Chairman and mayor may administer oaths.

Every chairman and mayor shall have power to administer an oath to any person concerning any matter submitted to the board or council or connected with their powers or duties.

Code 1950, § 15-234; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-529; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1411. Appointment of advisory boards, committees and commissions; compensation and reimbursement of expenses.

The governing body of any locality may appoint such advisory boards, committees, and commissions as it deems necessary to advise the governing body with regard to any matter of concern to the locality. Members shall be appointed to serve at the pleasure of the governing body.

The governing body may provide for (i) reimbursement of the actual expenses incurred by members while serving on such advisory boards, committees, and commissions and (ii) compensation to members for their services for attendance at regularly scheduled meetings, and for training in an amount determined appropriate by the governing body from available funds.

1981, c. 254, § 15.1-33.2; 1993, c. 894; 1994, c. 165; 1997, c. 587; 2002, c. 27; 2005, cc. 740, 879.

§ 15.2-1412. Reproductions of records and documents and legal status thereof; destruction of originals.

Any locality may provide for the photographing or microphotographing, or the recording by any other process which accurately reproduces or forms a durable medium for reproducing the original of all or any part of the papers, records, documents or other material kept by or in the charge of any department, agency or institution of such locality in accordance with such standards and retention schedules as may be issued in pursuance of § 42.1-82.

A reproduction thereof if substantially the same size as the original, when satisfactorily identified, is as admissible in evidence as the original itself in any judicial or administrative proceeding whether the original is in existence or not, and an enlargement or facsimile of such reproduction is likewise admissible in evidence if the original reproduction is in existence and available for inspection under direction of the court. The introduction of a reproduced record, enlargement or facsimile, does not preclude admission of the original.

Whenever photographs or microphotographs have been made and put in conveniently accessible files, and provision has been made for preserving, examining and using the same, the locality may notify the Librarian of Virginia that it intends to destroy the records and papers so photographed or microphotographed, or any part thereof. If within sixty days the Librarian of Virginia has not notified the locality that such records or papers should be retained, the locality may destroy them. A locality may also, in its discretion, consult with the locality's librarian with reference to the advisability of destroying any such records, papers, documents or other material because of any historical significance or value.

Code 1950, § 15-5.1; 1952, c. 289; 1958, c. 9; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-8; 1966, c. 303; 1970, c. 225; 1979, c. 155; 1983, c. 419; 1997, c. 587; 1998, c. 427; 2012, c. 802.

§ 15.2-1413. Governing bodies of localities may provide for continuity of government in case of enemy attack, etc.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, any locality may, by ordinance, provide a method to assure continuity in its government, in the event of an enemy attack or other disaster. Such ordinance shall be limited in its effect to a period not exceeding 12 months after any such attack or disaster and shall provide for a method for the resumption of normal governmental authority by the end of the 12-month period.

1964, c. 307, § 15.1-13.1; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 295.

§ 15.2-1414. Governing bodies may have a legal enumeration of the population.

Any locality wishing to have a legal enumeration of the population of the locality, or part thereof, may make application therefor to the circuit court for the locality. When the application is made, the judge shall forthwith divide the locality, or part thereof, into such districts, with well-defined boundaries, as may appear advisable and shall appoint for each of the districts one enumerator. Before entering on their duties, such appointees shall take an oath before a notary public or other officer qualified to administer oaths under the laws of this Commonwealth, for the faithful discharge of their duties. The enumerators shall at once proceed to enumerate the actual bona fide inhabitants of their respective districts. They shall report to the judge the result of their enumeration and a list of the persons enumerated by them within a reasonable time after their appointment, and a copy of the list of persons so enumerated by them shall be furnished by the enumerators to the clerk of the court, who shall receive the list and keep it open to public inspection. Upon evidence produced before him, the judge may add to the list the name of any person improperly omitted and may strike from the list the name of any person improperly listed. If it appears advisable to the judge, he may order that the enumeration for any or all of the districts be retaken under all the provisions of this section by other enumerators, who shall be forthwith appointed by him. The judge shall cause to be tabulated and consolidated the lists and return to the governing body the results thereof, in accordance with the application of the governing body. The judge shall allow each enumerator a reasonable fee for each day actually employed by him in making the enumeration. He shall certify the allowance and costs to the governing body for payment out of the local treasury, and the allowance shall be a legal charge upon the governmental unit requesting the enumeration.

Code 1950, § 15-19; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-17; 1997, c. 587.