What defines a County? What does a County Supervisor do?
When was Sacramento County founded?
On January 4, 1850, a committee of California’s first constitutional convention, chaired by General Mariano Vallejo, recommended the creation of eighteen counties. Effective February 18, 1850, twenty-seven counties were created in California by the California State Legislature; Sacramento is among those original 27 Counties. There are currently 58 counties in California.
What is the difference between a county and a city?
There is a fundamental distinction between a county and a city. Counties lack broad powers of self-government that California cities have (e.g., cities have broad revenue generating authority and counties do not). In addition, legislative control over counties is more complete than it is over cities. Unless restricted by a specific provision of the state Constitution, the Legislature may delegate to the counties any of the functions which belong to the state itself. Conversely, the state may take back to itself and resume the functions which it has delegated to counties (e.g., state funding of trial courts).
What powers rest in a county?
The California Constitution authorizes a county to make and enforce local ordinances that do not conflict with general laws. A county also has the power to sue and be sued, purchase and hold land, manage or dispose of its properties, and levy and collect taxes authorized by law. Many additional powers have been granted to counties by the Legislature. The powers of a county can only be exercised by the Board of Supervisors or through officers acting under the authority of the Board or authority conferred by law. In addition, the Board must follow the procedural requirements in the statutes or its actions will not be valid. For example, if the Legislature has provided a method by which a county may abandon a road, that method must be followed. Also, where state law requires land use zoning by an ordinance, this statutorily prescribed method is binding on the county. On the other hand, where the law does not specifically prescribe a method for accomplishing a task, the county may adopt any reasonably suitable means.
How is the county board of supervisors elected?
All California counties have five supervisors elected for four-year staggered terms on a nonpartisan ballot. The five members of the board are elected on a non-partisan basis to serve four-year terms and there is no limit on the terms that members can serve. Each is elected from one of the five supervisorial districts of the County. In Sacramento, supervisors from Districts 1, 2 and 5 are elected in gubernatorial election years (2006, 2010, etc.) while supervisors from Districts 3 and 4 are elected in presidential election years (2004, 2008, etc.). Supervisorial district boundaries must be adjusted after each federal census so that the population of all districts is as nearly equal as possible.
Who is in charge of the county government?
The board of supervisors is the legislative and executive body of county government. The supervisors pass all ordinances governing the county and are responsible for seeing that functions delegated to the county are properly discharged. They adopt the budget, set employee salaries and make determinations in personnel matters when there is no independent personnel board or civil service system.
A county supervisor may serve in other capacities on various boards, commissions, or special districts. State statute authorizes, and in some cases mandates that various services or functions be carried out by entities other than the board of supervisors. In Sacramento, these entities, in addition to including locally elected officials, seek public participation and technical expertise:
- Sacramento Area Councils of Government (SACOG)
- Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO)
- Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD)
- Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC through SACOG)
- Joint Powers Authorities (JPA)
- Sacramento Regional Transit District Board
The roles and functions of these entities primarily relate to planning for future development and the associated service needs (e.g., water, sewer) and impacts (e.g., air quality, airport safety). Board members serving on one of these entities may find themselves making decisions on a variety of issues from regional planning to establishing spheres of influence for new cities or special districts within the county.
What services are managed by the board of supervisors?
The board of supervisors has responsibility for overseeing a variety of services to county residents, including those in cities as well as those in unincorporated areas. Such countywide services include voter registration, health and welfare programs, court and law enforcement operations, jail facilities, the recording of official documents, including vital statistics and real property transactions, tax assessment and collection, and social services.
Who runs day to day administrative operations in Sacramento County?
The County Executive is the county’s top staff member. The County Executive is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the county and prepares the annual budget for the Board of Supervisors. The County Executive is hired by a majority of the board of supervisors and may be removed by four members of the board. The current County Executive is Brad Hudson.
What services are provided for unincorporated areas?
The supervisors are responsible for providing some municipal-type services for residents of unincorporated areas. These include planning, zoning and land-use regulation, street maintenance, and in some cases sewage disposal, water, parks and recreational facilities and other municipal services. Policy decisions on the degree of service lie with the board of supervisors. In Sacramento, there are many highly urbanized unincorporated areas that have the same service needs as conventional cities. These needs are frequently met by formation of special districts.
What judicial functions are performed by the board of supervisors?
The board of supervisors also has some quasi-judicial functions. For example, in many counties supervisors serve as the tax assessment appeals board and as the planning and land-use appeal body.
Do the county supervisors appoint all agency heads in Sacramento County?
No. While the board of supervisors does approve agency budgets, the Sheriff, Assessor, and District Attorney are elected independently by county residents. The Chief Probation Officer is appointed by the Superior Court of Sacramento County.