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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 8. Urban County Executive Form of Government
12/4/2022

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 15.2-800. Designation of form of government; applicability of chapter.

The form of county organization and government provided for in this chapter shall be known and designated as the urban county executive form. The provisions of this chapter shall apply only to the counties which have adopted the urban county executive form.

Code 1950, § 15-384.16; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-728; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-801. Adoption of urban county executive form.

Any county with a population of more than 90,000 may adopt the urban county executive form of government in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 3 (§ 15.2-300 et seq.) of this title.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-802. Powers of county vested in board of supervisors; membership, election, terms, etc., of board; vacancies; powers of chairman.

The powers of the county as a body politic and corporate shall be vested in an urban county board of supervisors, to consist of one member from each district of such county and to be known as the board of supervisors (the board). Each member shall be a qualified voter of his district and shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof. In addition to the above board members, the voters shall elect a county chairman who shall be a qualified voter of the county. No person may be a candidate for county chairman at the same time he is a candidate for membership on the county board from any district of the county. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the board and the chairman shall be included and counted.

The county chairman shall be the chairman of the board and preside at the meetings thereof. The chairman shall represent the county at official functions and ceremonial events. The chairman shall have all rights, privileges, and duties of other members of the board and such others, not in conflict with this article, as the board may prescribe. In addition, the chairman shall have the power to (i) call special meetings of the board in accordance with the procedures and restrictions of § 15.2-1418, mutatis mutandis; (ii) set the agenda for board meetings; however, any such agenda may be modified by an affirmative vote of the board; (iii) appoint county representatives to regional boards, authorities and commissions which are authorized in advance by the board; however, any such appointment shall be subject to revocation by an affirmative vote of a majority of all members elected to the board acting within the 30-day period following that appointment; and (iv) create and appoint committees of the board and name presiding members of such committees as authorized by the board; however, any such committee or appointment shall be subject to revocation by an affirmative vote of a majority of all members elected to the board.

At the first meeting at the beginning of its term and any time thereafter when necessary, the board shall elect a vice-chairman from its membership who shall perform the duties of the chairman in his absence.

The supervisors and chairman first elected under the provisions of this chapter shall hold office until January 1 following the next regular election provided by general law for the election of supervisors. At such election their successors shall be elected for terms of four years each.

If the number of districts in any such county is increased by redistricting or otherwise subsequent to a general election for supervisors, and such supervisors have taken office, then the board shall adopt a resolution requesting a judge of the circuit court for such county to call a special election for an additional supervisor or supervisors in accordance with the increase in the number of districts, such additional supervisor or supervisors to be elected from the county at large, and such election shall be held within 45 days from the date of such request. The qualifications of candidates and the election shall be as at general law applying to special elections. Any supervisors thereby elected shall hold office until January 1 following the next regular election provided by general law for the election of members of the board, and at the next regular election all supervisors of any such county shall be elected from districts as provided by law.

If a vacancy occurs on the board, the chief judge of the circuit court for such county shall call a special election, in the district if the vacancy is of a district supervisor, or in the county at large if the vacancy is of the chairman, to be held not fewer than 45 nor more than 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy; however, if the vacancy occurs within 150 days prior to a general election, such special election may be held on the general election day; and if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to the date of a regular election for the board of supervisors, such vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the remaining members of the board within seven days of the occurrence of the vacancy, which appointment shall be for the duration of the term of office of the person whose absence from the board occasioned such vacancy. The qualification of candidates and the election shall be otherwise as at general law applying to special elections.

Code 1950, § 15-384.17; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-729; 1966, c. 464; 1968, c. 797; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 158; 1972, c. 707; 1985, c. 138; 1994, c. 148; 1997, c. 587; 2012, c. 396.

§ 15.2-803. General powers of board of supervisors.

The board shall be the policy-determining body of the county and shall be vested with all rights and powers conferred on boards of supervisors by general law, not inconsistent with the form of county organization and government herein provided.

The board shall be the governing body of the urban county and of each of the districts established under Article 4 (§ 15.2-855 et seq.) of this chapter for the provision of certain services to residents of such districts.

Code 1950, § 15-384.18; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-730; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-804. Appointment, qualifications and compensation of urban county executive; to devote full time to work.

The board shall appoint an urban county executive and fix his compensation. He shall devote his full time to the work of the county. He shall be appointed with regard to merit only, and need not be a resident of the county at the time of his appointment. No member of the board shall, during the time for which he has been elected, be chosen urban county executive, nor shall such powers be given to a person who at the same time is filling an elective office. The head of one of the departments of the county government may, however, also be appointed urban county executive.

Code 1950, § 15-384.19; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-731; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-805. Tenure of county executive; suspension or removal.

The urban county executive shall not be appointed for a definite tenure, but may be removed at the pleasure of the board. If the board determines to remove the urban county executive, he shall be given, if he so demands, a written statement of the reasons alleged for the proposed removal and the right to a hearing thereon at a public meeting of the board prior to the date on which his final removal takes effect. Pending and during such hearing, the board may suspend him from office, provided that the period of suspension be limited to thirty days. The board's action in suspending or removing the urban county executive shall not be subject to review by any court.

Code 1950, § 15-384.20; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-732; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-806. Absence or disability of county executive.

In case of the absence or disability of the urban county executive, the board may designate some responsible person to perform the duties of the office.

Code 1950, § 15-384.21; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-733; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-807. Appointment of county officers and employees; federal employment, etc., not to disqualify; discussions with board.

The board shall appoint, upon the recommendation of the urban county executive, all officers and employees in the administration service of the county, except as the board authorizes the urban county executive to appoint heads of a department or office and except as the board authorizes the heads of a department or office to appoint subordinates in such department or office. However, in appointing the county school board no recommendation by the urban county executive is required. All appointments shall be on the basis of ability, training and experience of the appointees which are relevant to the work which they are to perform.

No person otherwise eligible, shall be disqualified by reason of his accepting or holding employment, an office, post, trust or emolument under the United States government, from serving as a member of any board, commission, authority, committee or agency whose members are appointed by the board.

The county clerk, the attorney for the Commonwealth and the sheriff shall be selected in the manner and for the terms, and vacancies in such offices shall be filled, as provided by general law.

The urban county executive shall have the right to take part in all discussions and to present his views on all matters coming before the board. The attorney for the Commonwealth and the sheriff shall be entitled to present their views on matters relating to their respective departments.

Code 1950, § 15-384.22; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-734; 1968, c. 797; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-808. Tenure of county officers and employees; suspension or removal.

All such appointments shall be without definite term, unless for limited term appointments for temporary services not to exceed one year in duration, except as otherwise specifically provided for herein.

Any county officer or employee appointed pursuant to § 15.2-807 may be suspended or removed from office or employment either by the board or the officer who appointed or employed him. In case of the absence or disability of any such officer, the board or other appointing power may designate some responsible person to perform the duties of the office.

Code 1950, § 15-384.23; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-735; 1968, c. 797; 1987, c. 419; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-809. Compensation of officers and employees.

The board shall, subject to the limitations of general law, fix the compensation of all county officers and employees, except as it may authorize the head of some department or office to fix the compensation of subordinates and employees in such department or office.

Code 1950, § 15-384.24; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-736; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-810. Restrictions on activities of former officers and employees.

The board, by ordinance, may prohibit former officers and employees, for one year after their terms of office have ended or employment ceased, from assisting for remuneration a party, other than a governmental agency, in connection with any proceeding, application, case, contract, or other particular matter involving the urban county or an agency thereof, if that matter is one in which the former officer or employee participated personally and substantially as an urban county officer or employee through decision, approval, or recommendation.

The term "officer or employee," as used in this section, includes members of the board, county 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 board.

1987, c. 419, § 15.1-736.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-811. Powers and duties of county executive.

The urban county executive shall be the administrative head of the county. He shall attend all meetings of the board and recommend such action as he may deem expedient. He shall be responsible to the board for the proper administration of all county affairs which the board has authority to control.

He shall also:

1. Make monthly reports to the board on administrative matters, and keep the board fully advised as to the county's financial condition.

2. Submit to the board a proposed annual budget, with his recommendations, and execute the budget as finally adopted.

3. Execute and enforce all board resolutions and orders and shall see that all laws of the Commonwealth required to be enforced through the board or some other county officer subject to the board's control are faithfully executed.

4. Examine regularly the books and papers of every officer and department of the county and report to the board the condition in which he finds them.

5. Perform such other duties as the board requires of him.

Code 1950, § 15-384.26; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-738; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-812. County executive may act as director or head of department.

The urban county executive may, if the board requires, act as the director or head of any department, the director or head of which is appointed by the board, provided he is otherwise eligible to head such department.

Code 1950, § 15-384.27; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-739; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-813. Certain officers not affected by adoption of plan.

The following officers shall not, except as herein otherwise provided, be affected by the adoption of the urban county executive form:

1. Jury commissioners,

2. County electoral boards,

3. Registrars,

4. Judges and clerks of elections, and

5. Magistrates.

Code 1950, § 15-384.43; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-755; 1973, c. 545; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-814. Inquiries and investigations by board of supervisors.

The board may inquire into the official conduct of any office or officer under its control, and investigate the accounts, receipts, disbursements and expenses of any county or district officer. For these purposes it may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and require the production of books, papers and other evidence. If any witness fails or refuses to obey any such lawful order of the board, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 15-384.49; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-762; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-815. Regulation of garbage, trash and refuse pickup and disposal services; contracting for such services in certain counties.

The board may adopt an ordinance requiring the delivery of all or any portion of the garbage, trash and refuse generated or disposed of within such county to waste disposal facilities located therein or to waste disposal facilities located outside of such county if the county has contracted for capacity at or service from such facilities.

Such ordinances may provide that it is unlawful for any person to dispose of his garbage, trash and refuse in or at any other place. No such ordinance shall apply to the occupants of single-family residences or family farms disposing of their own garbage, trash or refuse if such occupants have paid the fees, rates and charges of other single-family residences and family farms in the same service area.

Such ordinance shall not apply to garbage, trash and refuse generated, purchased or utilized by an entity engaged in the business of manufacturing, mining, processing, refining or conversion except for an entity engaged in the production of energy or refuse-derived fuels for sale to a person other than any entity controlling, controlled by or under the same control as the manufacturer, miner, processor, refiner or converter. Nor shall such ordinance apply to (i) recyclable materials, which are those materials that have been source-separated by any person or materials that have been separated from garbage, trash and refuse by any person for utilization in both cases as a raw material to be manufactured into a new product other than fuel or energy, (ii) construction debris to be disposed of in a landfill, or (iii) waste oil. Such ordinances may provide penalties, fines and other punishment for violations.

Such county may contract with any person, whether profit or nonprofit, for garbage and refuse pickup and disposal services and enter into contracts relating to waste disposal facilities which recover energy or materials from garbage, trash and refuse. Such contracts may make provision for, among other things, (i) the purchase by the county of all or a portion of the disposal capacity of a waste disposal facility located within or outside the county for present or future waste disposal requirements; (ii) the operation of such facility by the county; (iii) the delivery by or on behalf of the contracting county of specified quantities of garbage, trash and refuse, whether or not such county collects such garbage, trash and refuse, and the making of payments for such quantities of garbage, trash and refuse whether or not such garbage, trash and refuse are delivered, including payments for revenues lost if garbage, trash and refuse are not delivered; (iv) adjustments to payments made by the county in regard to inflation, changes in energy prices or residue disposal costs, taxes imposed upon the facility owner or operator, or other events beyond the control of the facility operator or owners; (v) the fixing and collection of fees, rates or charges for use of the disposal facility and for any product or service resulting from operation of the facility; and (vi) such other provision as is necessary for the safe and effective construction, maintenance or operation of such facility, whether or not such provision displaces competition in any market. Any such contract shall not be deemed to be a debt or gift of the county within the meaning of any law, charter provision or debt limitation. Nothing in the foregoing powers granted such county shall include the authority to pledge the full faith and credit of such local government in violation of Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution of Virginia.

1985, c. 581, § 15.1-730.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-816. Maintenance of certain sewer lines.

Upon petition of a majority of the affected property owners or members of an affected owners' association, (i) the county may take over the maintenance of undersized sewer lines installed as a result of the county's waiver of its adopted requirements developed under this title or Title 62.1; and (ii) the county shall be granted the right to convert the undersized sewer lines to county standards at its expense, if the county deems the conversion to be in its best interests for health or economic reasons; or (iii) if the property owners or their associations elect to convert the undersized sewer lines to county standards, the county may take over and maintain at county expense the converted sewer lines.

The cost for the maintenance of such lines shall be borne by the county general fund; or the county, at its discretion, may incorporate the sewer lines into an existing sanitary district for uniformity of maintenance and cost/budget allocations.

If the county determines that the builder/developer installed the undersized lines without the express permission of the appropriate county agency, then the county may collect the cost of conversion from the builder/developer; however, the county shall bear the ongoing cost of maintenance.

This section applies only to sewer lines installed on or before January 1, 1987.

1987, c. 253, § 15.1-730.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-816.1. Underground electric distribution, telecommunications, cable, and other utility facilities.

A. The governing body of any locality operating under the urban county executive form of government may request an electric utility, telecommunications provider, cable provider, or other utility to enter into an agreement with the locality to place underground electric distribution, facilities, telecommunications facilities, cable facilities, or other utility facilities as part of a transportation infrastructure improvement project, a commercial or industrial improvement project, or roads serving any such project that the Commonwealth Transportation Board or such locality identifies that reduce congestion, improve mobility, improve transit system infrastructure, improve safety, or improve service or access to such project.

B. If the parties desire to proceed, the locality operating under the urban county executive form of government shall enter into an agreement with an electric utility, telecommunications provider, cable provider, or other utility that provides that (i) the locality shall pay to the utility or provider its full costs of relocating and converting that portion of the facility located in the locality underground rather than overhead, minus the net of relocation credits; (ii) the utility or provider shall convert, operate, and maintain the agreed portion of the facility underground in cooperation with any other utility or provider with facilities placed underground there; (iii) the agreement is contingent upon the adoption of the levy set forth in subsection C; and (iv) other terms and conditions on which the parties may agree shall be included in the agreement. No agreement shall require any telecommunications provider or cable provider to share conduit.

C. If the locality operating under the urban county executive form of government and the utility enter into an agreement as described in subsection B, the locality may impose an additional levy on electric utility customers in the locality pursuant to § 58.1-3814. The locality shall by ordinance fix the amount of such additional levy, which shall not exceed $1 per month on residential customers and shall not exceed 6.67 percent of the monthly amount charged to nonresidential consumers of the utility service. The initial proceeds of such levy shall be dedicated to a project incorporating bus rapid transit on a road in the National Highway System serving a Metrorail station and an anticipated extension of Metrorail in a designated revitalization area in such locality. The provider of billing services shall bill the tax to all users who are subject to the tax and to whom it bills for electricity service and shall remit such tax to the appropriate locality. Any levy imposed pursuant to this section shall be in addition to the limit for any utility consumer tax prescribed in § 58.1-3814. If the provisions of this section are inconsistent with the provisions of § 58.1-3814, the provisions of this section shall be controlling.

D. The locality may, or the Commissioner of Highways, upon presentation of the agreement to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, shall, be responsible for securing the necessary easements and permits for the utility or provider necessary for the conversion of the existing distribution, telecommunication, cable, or other utility facilities.

E. With the exception of any local zoning ordinances and review under § 15.2-2232 or any cable franchise agreement, if the provisions of this section are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law or local ordinance, the provisions of this section shall be controlling.

F. For purposes of this section, the term "electric utility" includes any cooperative, as that term is defined in § 56-231.15, operating within the locality.

2019, c. 792; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 505.

§ 15.2-817. No unincorporated area to be incorporated after adoption of urban county form of government.

After the date of adoption of the urban county executive form of government, no unincorporated area within the limits of such county shall be incorporated as a separate town or city within the limits of such county, whether by judicial proceedings or otherwise.

Code 1950, § 15-384.72; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-785; 1968, c. 797; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-818. City may petition to become part of county.

After the date of adoption of the urban county executive form of government, a city contiguous to or within the limits of such a county may petition, by action of its governing body, to become a part of the county on terms set forth in a resolution adopted by the board. Passage of a referendum within the petitioning city shall constitute approval of the city becoming a district of the county or a part or parts of one or more districts and action of the board shall constitute final approval thereof by the county.

Code 1950, § 15-384.73; 1960, c. 382; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-786; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-819. Demolition of historic structures; civil penalty.

A county may adopt an ordinance which establishes a civil penalty for the demolition, razing or moving of a building or structure which is located in an historic district or which has been designated by the governing body as an historic structure or landmark without the prior approval from either the architectural review board or the governing body as provided by subdivision A 2 of § 15.2-2306.

The civil penalty imposed for a violation of such an ordinance shall not exceed the market value of the property as determined by the assessed value of the property at the time of the destruction or removal of the building or structure. Such value shall include the value of any structures and the value of the real property upon which any such structure or structures were located. Such ordinances may be enforced by the county attorney by bringing an action in the name of the county in the circuit court. Such actions shall be brought against the party or parties deemed responsible for the violation. It shall be the burden of the county to show the liability of the violator by a preponderance of the evidence.

Nothing in this section shall preclude action by the zoning administrator under subdivision A 4 of § 15.2-2286 or action by the board under § 15.2-2208.

1991, c. 201, § 15.1-499.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-820. Donations to legal entities owning recreational facilities.

A county is authorized to make annual appropriations of public funds to any nonprofit legal entity that is not controlled in whole or in part by any church or religious body that has exclusionary membership practices or rules that owns recreational facilities in the county such as, but not limited to, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc., in an amount not to exceed the amount of real estate taxes that is owed on the recreational facilities owned by the legal entity receiving the appropriations.

The provisions of § 15.2-953 are not affected by this section.

1992, c. 866, § 15.1-27.2; 1997, c. 587; 2005, c. 928.