GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND FINANCE
Local Government Structure
Highland County is divided into three magisterial districts: Stonewall, Monterey (including the Town of Monterey), and Blue Grass. Three representatives are elected at large to serve on the Board of Supervisors for a term of four years. The Board is responsible for handling the legislative and administrative affairs of the County. The chairman, who is the chief administrative officer of the County, is selected from among members of the Board of Supervisors.
The Board’s responsibilities include providing public services, adopting an annual budget based upon anticipated revenues, appointing a County Admin-istrator, and setting policies by which the County is run. The Board meets the first Tuesday of every month at a time and place announced in advance by the local media. These meetings are open to the public.
The County provides building inspection, health department services, social services, solid waste removal and recycling.
The County has a full-time County Administrator who serves at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors. The Administrator is responsible for implementing the policies of the Board, managing the affairs of the County, and hiring staff.
Elected constitutional officers in the county are the County Treasurer, the Commissioner of Revenue, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Commonwealth Attorney, and the County Sheriff.
Highland also has a number of boards and authorities that perform specific functions for the County. These include the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Recreation Commission, and the Economic Development Authority. These meetings are also open to the public.
The Town of Monterey, Highland’s only town, is governed by six council members and a mayor. The mayor is considered the chief administrative officer of the Town. All council members are elected for two-year terms. The council is responsible for all legislation directly applicable to the Town. It oversees the town’s service provision of water, wastewater, solid waste collection and disposal, streetlights, sidewalks, and fire hydrants. Town meetings are held the first Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the local library.
Both the Town of Monterey and Highland County are part of the 25th Judicial Circuit, which is served by four full-time judges elected by the General Assembly of Virginia for eight-year terms. Circuit courts are courts of record. Appeals from the Circuit Court go directly to the Supreme Court of Virginia or the Virginia Court of Appeals. Highland County is also served by four General District Court judges and two Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court judges. All district court judges are full-time and are elected by the General Assembly for six years.
Highland County is served by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC). The CSPDC assists the County with a variety of projects and provides forums through which the County participates in many regional projects.
Other multi-jurisdictional organizations serving Highland County include agencies such as the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Valley Community Services Board, Valley Program for Aging Services and others.
Federal and State Relationships
Federal and State regulations and mandated programs are important factors in determining many daily operations of local government. In some cases, local assistance needed to comply with these regulations and mandates is supplied in the form of funding from the Federal and State governments. In other instances, Federal support is channeled through the State.
However, some regulations and mandates are not financially supported by Federal or State governments. Consequently, Highland County must develop new revenue sources to meet insufficiently- or unfunded-mandates.
Examples of state-mandated programs are present in the areas of building inspections, education, sanitation and health services, public safety, welfare and social services.
Highland County Revenues
Healthy Highland County revenues enable the County to finance operations, provide services, and build upon capital improvement funds.
In 2010, local revenue represented 46% of total revenues; while state and federal revenues represented 54% of total revenues.
Primary types of county revenue are taxes, fee, fines, service charges and grants. The most significant local revenue source is real property tax, which in 2010 contributed 76% of locally-generated county revenue.
The primary allocation for County revenue has historically been education, generally comprising 60% of the total annual county budget.
Military Airspace in Highland County
All armed forces service branches currently use the airspace above Highland County for training missions.
The military operations area is controlled by the Air Force at Langley Air Force Base and is designated as the Evers MOA.
Military Training Routes (MTR) currently cross the western portion of the county with authority to fly as low as 2000’ AGL; however, they frequently fly as low as 300’ AGL.