County Manager Form of Government
In 1934, Henrico voters chose to adopt the county manager form of government, a form in which an appointed county manager is overseen by a board of elected supervisors. This differs from the traditional form of government used in many localities across Virginia, and today, Henrico is the only county in the state that uses the county manager form.
At the heart of this system lies the Board of Supervisors, an elected body composed of five representatives, one coming from each of the county’s five magisterial districts: Brookland, Fairfield, Three Chopt, Tuckahoe, and Varina. The Board’s powers as the policymaking body of the county are specified in state law under the section detailing the county manager form of government and county organization (Section 15.2-600 through Section 15.2-642). These powers include the adoption of ordinances, resolutions, and motions. For certain actions, however, such as amending the Code of the County of Henrico, borrowing money, or levying a tax, the Board must adopt an ordinance.
In January of each year, the Board elects a chairman who presides at each Board meeting and serves as the official head of the County government; a vice-chairman is also elected to serve in the chairman’s absence. For an historical photo gallery featuring past chairmen of the Board of Supervisor’s, please follow this link.
What distinguishes the county manager form of government from other forms of local government is the role assigned to the county manager. The county manager is appointed by the Board as the administrative head of the county government and is responsible for the County’s general government operations. Throughout Henrico’s history, the position of county manager has provided a remarkable amount of stability to government operations; in the eighty years since the switch to a county manager form of government in 1934, only eight individuals have served Henrico as county manager. The position’s official duties include: carrying out the policies determined by the Board of Supervisors, coordinating the business affairs of the County through administrative procedures, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the County. Additionally, the county manager serves as the Director for Public Safety and determines and fixes the salaries of all Henrico general government employees, within the parameters set by the County pay and classification plan. A photo gallery of all of Henrico’s past county managers can be found here.
The county manager form of government also provides for the grouping and consolidation of different administrative functions into departments and agencies. Examples of Henrico’s departments include: Fire, Police, Planning, Public Works, and Recreation and Parks. The county manager is responsible for appointing the heads of all of the county government departments, with the exception of the constitutional offices of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Commonwealth’s Attorney, and Sheriff. These constitutional offices are decided by public election. Furthermore, under the county manager form of government, the constitutional offices of treasurer and commissioner of the revenue do not exist; rather, those functions are combined into a Department of Finance, which is led by an appointed Director of Finance.
As the County has expanded in the years since 1934, the demands on local government and its services has required an expansion of the county manager’s scope of responsibilities. Today, four deputy county managers assist the county manager in supervising the work of the County’s many agencies and departments. These deputy county managers specialize in one of the following categories: Administration, Community Services, Community Development, and Community Operations. For a complete organizational chart of the County hierarchy, please refer to this link.
Within the county manager form of government, the School Board operates as a separate entity from the rest of general government, but funding for both branches is provided by the Board of Supervisors. The relationship between the two Boards is further intertwined by consolidated services such as a uniform pay plan, integrated financial accounting system, combined procurement, a joint risk management department, and many other examples of cooperation. However, the School Board also directly reports to the Henrico electorate; like the Board of Supervisors, School Board members are elected by the voters to represent each of the five magisterial districts, and members serve four-year terms. The School Board is responsible for the allocation and control of school finances, the management of its programs and personnel, and the appointment of the superintendent of schools. For more information about the Henrico School Board, visit their website at http://www.henrico.k12.va.us/.