Political_subdivisions_of_Virginia by zzzmarcus


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Political subdivisions of Virginia

Political subdivisions of Virginia
The political subdivisions of Virginia are the areas into which the Commonwealth of Virginia, a U.S. state, is divided for political and administrative purposes. Some are local governments; others are not. However, all local governments (cities, counties, and incorporated towns) are political subdivisions of the state. According to the 2002 Census of Governments, Virginia ranked 43rd among the 50 states in the number of local governments, with 521 as of June 2002.[1] • Various local governments consolidate to form a city. An example is Chesapeake, which resulted from the consolidation of the former city of South Norfolk with the former county of Norfolk.

Independent cities
The organization of its cities as independent cities is the most noteworthy aspect of Virginia local government relative to the other 49 states. Of the 42 independent cities in the United States[2], 39 are in Virginia. The three that are not in Virginia are Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri and Carson City, Nevada. In Virginia, all municipalities incorporated as "cities" have also been "independent cities" since 1871. Cities in Virginia are thus similar to unitary authorities in some countries. Other municipalities, even though they may be more populous than some existing independent cities, are incorporated as "towns", and as such form part of a county. An independent city in Virginia may serve as the county seat of an adjacent county, even though the city by definition is not part of that county. An example is Fairfax, which is an independent city as well as the county seat of Fairfax County. The United States Census Bureau treats all cities in Virginia as county-equivalents. Cities have been formed in the following ways: • An area within a county, which may or may not have been a town previously, incorporates as a city and thus becomes independent. An example is Falls Church, which separated from Fairfax County. • A county is converted into a city. An example was the former city of Nansemond.

Virginia has 95 counties, covering all of the territory not within the independent cities. Their populations vary widely; 2004 population estimates ranged from 2,482 for Highland County to 1,003,157 for Fairfax County.[3] Since Virginia has no civil townships, and since incorporated towns cover such a small area of the state, the county is the de facto municipal government for much of the state, from rural areas to densely populated unincorporated areas such as Tysons Corner. In fact, Arlington County, while entirely urbanized, has no towns at all; the county is the only general-purpose local government and is thus also similar to a unitary authority.

Unlike Virginia’s cities, and like municipalities in most other states, incorporated towns are municipalities that are within counties. Local government is thus divided between the town and the county. Virginia also has unincorporated communities which are also called towns colloquially.

School divisions
A school division is the area under a jurisdiction of a school board. Unlike school districts in most other states, Virginia’s school divisions are not completely separate units of local government. This is because no school


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division has taxing authority. Instead, they are dependent upon their associated city, town, or county governments for at least a portion of their funding. Additional funds may come directly to a school division, typically from state and federal sources.

Political subdivisions of Virginia
established for elections, administrative functions, or both. They are not separate units of local government.

Under Code of Virginia § 15.2-3534,[4] when multiple local governments consolidate to form a consolidated city, the consolidated city may be divided into geographical subdivisions called "boroughs", which may be the same as the existing (i) cities, (ii) counties, or (iii) portions of such counties. Those boroughs are not separate local governments. For example, Chesapeake is divided into six boroughs, one corresponding to the former city of South Norfolk and one corresponding to each of the five magisterial districts of the former Norfolk County.[5] Suffolk is divided into seven boroughs, one corresponding to the former city of Suffolk and one corresponding to each of the six magisterial districts of the former Nansemond County.[6] In Virginia Beach, the seven boroughs were abolished effective July 1, 1998.[7]

Special districts, agencies
While special districts exist in Virginia, they are generally less important than in other states. As of June 2002, Virginia had 196 special-district governments, as well as numerous special agencies, areas, and districts that were subordinate to the state or to a county, city, or town government. Several examples of the many special districts and agencies created as political subdivisions for specific purposes are: • Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike Authority, formed in 1955, which sold toll revenue bonds, built and operated the RichmondPetersburg Turnpike, and collected tolls until 1973, when its duties where assumed by another state agency by an Act of the General Assembly. • Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District which built and operates the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 23-mile (37 km) long bridge-tunnel facility which crosses the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, entirely located within Virginia. • Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA), formed in 1990 to coordinate recycling and waste management programs for thirteen localities in central Virginia. • Airport authorities An exception is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Although it serves suburbs in Virginia (and Maryland), the Census Bureau counts it as as District of Columbia special district for statistical purposes.

Potential political subdivisions
State statute provides that when multiple local governments consolidate, existing political subdivisions may continue in existence as townships (not to be confused with civil townships in those states that have them), tier-cities, or shires. However, none have yet been created.

Relationships, regional cooperation
Various political subdivisions may do business with each other and the state and federal government in a manner similar to private individuals, limited partnerships, and corporations, with the notable exception that some restrictions may apply with regards to public information, competitive bidding, personal use of governmentally-owned property, vehicles, resources, etc. In recent years, Virginia has tried to encourage regional cooperation among localities. Special favorable funding for regional jails has been one area were incentives have encouraged such efforts. However, Virginia’s annexation laws and past experiences have long been felt by many leaders to be a barrier to regional cooperation among localities.

Other political subdivisions
Magisterial districts, election districts, and wards
Magisterial districts, election districts, and wards are minor civil divisions


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Political subdivisions of Virginia
The problems and hard feelings which arose from the Richmond-Chesterfield case which began in 1965 were used as prime examples of obstacles to regional cooperation as the state legislators have considered changes. The resulting 1970 annexation was exceptionally controversial and took over 7 years to be resolved in court. In that case, while the annexation lawsuit filed by Richmond in 1965 was being heard, with the city seeking 51 square miles (132 km2) of the county, the leaders of the two jurisdictions, Irvin G. Horner, Chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, and Phil J. Bagley, Jr. the Mayor of the City of Richmond met privately and agreed to a compromise. In May 1969, the Horner-Bagley Compromise, as it came to be called, was approved by the county and city and incorporated in a court decree of July 12, 1969. This effectively shut out a number of third parties attempting to block the annexation, who felt they had been excluded from the process. An example among these was a small commuter bus company holding an operating rights in the county, whereas the city granted its bus franchise to a competitor. Taxicab operators were similarly impacted. More significantly, 47,000 people found themselves living in a different jurisdiction without a public referendum. The Chesterfield-Richmond annexation agreement resulted in Richmond receiving 23 square miles (60 km2) of the county, as well as fire stations, parks, and other infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. Under the agreement, approximately a dozen public schools, support buildings, and future school sites were conveyed to the City of Richmond to be operated by Richmond Public Schools. Compounding the unhappiness of many of the residents of the annexed area was the fact that Richmond Public Schools was already involved in a desegregation lawsuit in the Federal courts. The schools involved in the annexed area included Huguenot High School, Fred D. Thompson Middle School, Elkhardt Middle School, and eight elementary schools. In 1971, these schools were included in a court-ordered desegregation busing program, which finally ended in the 1990s. Many of the 47,000 residents who lived in the annexed area of the 1970 compromise had been opposed to the annexation. They

Annexations, alternatives
Expansion of borders through annexation suits against neighboring counties and incorporated towns has long been a method available to the independent cities to grow, with incorporated towns also able to take such actions against counties. Since the years of the Byrd Organization, state funding formulas have tended to favor rural areas, and growth through annexation was seen as a countermeasure financially by many cities and towns. However, such actions are often controversial and in some cases, have resulted in protracted and costly legal proceedings. They also often leave residents of an annexed area feeling that they had no say in the process. Partially because independent cities are immune from annexation by adjacent localities, an action much-feared by those in many communities, in the mid 20th century, a wave of consolidations of local governments led to almost the entire southeastern portion of Virginia progressively becoming a web of adjoining independent cities. Many incorporated (formally constituted) localities, including counties, cities, and towns, some over 250 years old, became legally extinct between 1952 and 1975. A new law passed by the General Assembly in 1960 allowed any city and adjacent county to consolidate by mutual agreement. Of the 10 current independent cities of the Hampton Roads region, fully 8 of them adjoin others. In the region, only the cities of Franklin and Williamsburg are surrounded by traditional counties. This transition left the region with some oddities, such as the entire Virginia portion of the Great Dismal Swamp being located entirely within cities (Chesapeake and Suffolk). It is hard to imagine a less populated portion of a traditional city, save perhaps Central Park in New York City. See also: Seven Cities of Hampton Roads and Lost counties, cities and towns of Virginia While the mass conversion to independent cities such as occurred in the Hampton Roads region did not repeat elsewhere in the state, city-county annexations have generally created more conflicts and been a barrier to future regional cooperation than those of towns and counties. This may be because the individuals of the latter groups realize from the outset that they will be required to continue to work together afterwards (since all towns are within counties).


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fought unsuccessfully for over 7 years afterwards in the courts to have it reversed, ruefully called the 23 square miles (60 km2) zone "Occupied Chesterfield." At the same time, black plaintiffs who had lived in the city prior to the annexation claimed a violation of the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. The claim was that their voting power had been deliberately diminished by the attempts of city leaders to add white voters and dilute to black vote. The pre-annexation population of the city as of 1970 was 202,359, of which 104,207 or 52% were black citizens. The annexation added to the city 47,262 people, of whom 1,557 were black and 45,705 were non-black. The postannexation population of the city was therefore 249,621, of which 105,764 or 42% were Negroes. The plaintiffs prevailed in court by creation of a ward system which guaranteed black voters would be represented fairly in city government. [8] Since then, the State has taken several actions to avoid such conflicts. An agency of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Commission on Local Government promotes and preserves the viability of Virginia’s local governments by fostering positive intergovernmental relations. In some instances, neighboring localities have entered into agreements, such as a revenue sharing agreement between the independent city of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County. Beginning in 1982, in return for receiving a portion of annual county tax revenues, the city agreed to not attempt to annex portions of the county. The agency’s website lists many such deals between municipal neighbors. Additionally, in 1979, the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation that allowed any county meeting certain population and density standards to petition the local circuit court to declare the county permanently immune from annexation by any city with over 100,000 in population. In 1981, Chesterfield County and several other counties in the state subsequently sought and received such immunity from further annexation by Richmond. In 1987, the General Assembly, recognizing the controversy surrounding annexations in Virginia, placed a moratorium on future annexations of any county by any city. However, even when this moratorium

Political subdivisions of Virginia
expires, as it is currently scheduled to do in 2010, Chesterfield County will remain immune from annexation by Richmond because of the 1981 grant of immunity. [9] However, unless new legislation or revenue sharing or other agreements are reached, the county will potentially be exposed to annexation suits by any of the 3 smaller independent cities ( Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg) which adjoin it, as will other localities. In 2007, a Bill to extend the existing moratorium against annexations by cities from 2010 to 2020 passed both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, but was vetoed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. The Virginia Municipal League reported: "The governor said that there was no rush on this extension, and that the legislature should study the impact of the annexation moratorium on cities. The moratorium applies only to a limited number of cities. Many cities are barred from annexation by either geography or by other laws establishing the ability of counties to obtain complete or partial immunity from annexation." [10]

[1] 2002 Census of Governments, Individual State Descriptions (PDF) [2] "Counties and Equivalent Entities of the United States, Its Possessions, and Associated Areas; Change Notice No. 7". 2001. http://www.itl.nist.gov/fipspubs/ fip6-4.htm. Retrieved on 2006-05-27. [3] Population Estimates for Virginia Counties (Microsoft Excel file) [4] Code of Virginia § 15.2-3534 [5] Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2005 (PDF) [6] City of Suffolk voting boroughs, from City of Suffolk Web site [7] City of Virginia Beach Development Services Center, DSC INFORMATION NOTICE #63 - Correction May 15, 1998 (PDF) [8] Richmond-Chesterfield Case - Dilution of Black Voting Rights [9] Horner-Bagley Line, History of Annexation in Chesterfield [10] Virginia Municipal League 2007 Veto Session


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Political subdivisions of Virginia

External links
• Virginia Commission on Local government website

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_subdivisions_of_Virginia" Categories: Government of Virginia, Administrative divisions of the United States by state This page was last modified on 14 May 2009, at 14:29 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers


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