Alexandria is an independent city (Virginia cities have no county affiliation), which derives its governing authority from a charter granted by the Virginia General
Assembly. Changes in the structure and powers of the City government are made by amending the Charter. This requires action by the General Assembly, usually upon the request of the City Council, following public hearings. The present City Charter was granted in 1950; it was amended extensively in 1968, 1971, 1976, 1982, and 1983. By referendum in 1921, an overwhelming majority of the voters approved the adoption of the council-manager form of city government, which went into effect in September 1922. This form of government centralizes legislative authority and responsibility in the elected City Council.
Administrative authority and responsibility are held by the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council. The City Council is composed of a Mayor and six Council members who are elected at-large for three-year terms. Any in-term vacancy is filled by a special election unless the vacancy occurs within six months of the end of the term, at which time a judicial appointment is made. The Mayor, who is chosen on a separate ballot, presides over meetings of the Council and serves as the ceremonial head of government. The Mayor does not have the power to veto Council action. Council members traditionally choose the person receiving the most votes in the election to serve as Vice Mayor. In the absence or disability of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor performs the mayoral duties. The Mayor receives a salary of $30,500, and other Council members receive a salary of $27,500 per year.
Council determines the needs to be addressed and the degree of service to be
provided by the administrative branch of the City government. Under Alexandria’s Charter, the Council has power to:
- Determine policy in the fields of planning, traffic, law and order, public
works, finance, social services, and recreation;
- Appoint and remove the City Manager;
- Adopt the budget, levy taxes, collect revenues, and make appropriations;
- Appoint and remove the City Attorney;
- Authorize the issuance of bonds by a bond ordinance;
- Appoint and remove the City Clerk;
- Establish administrative departments, offices, and agencies;
- Appoint members of the Planning Commission, and other City
authorities, boards, commissions, and committees;
- Inquire into the conduct of any office, department, or agency of the City
and make investigations into municipal affairs;
- Provide for an independent audit; and
- Provide for the number, titles, qualifications, powers, duties, and compensation of all officers and employees of the City.
Council meetings are shown live on cable channel 70 and repeated at a later time. The council meetings can also be viewed via computer on streaming video. Past sessions of Council meetings can be watched via computer or on videos available from the Office of Citizen Assistance.
From time to time the city issues press releases which Condo Alexandria posts here.