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What do Commissioners do?
County governments were originally created as administrative divisions of the states. Each state government in the country has designed, through its constitution and statutes, the authorities and powers that counties may exercise.
Jefferson County has three Commissioners who are the administrative arm of County Government. The terms of office for County Commissioners are four (4) years on a staggered basis. The prospective Commissioner must reside in a certain district but elected by a majority vote of the County. Commissioners represent all citizens of Jefferson County. The County Commissioners are empowered to set county policy, adopt laws, implement them, and, except for the responsibilities of other elected officials, carry out day-to-day operations of the County.
The County Commissioners position is a part-time job. But in reality as an elected official you are on duty and on call 24 hours a day.
The most important thing that a Commissioner does is stay in touch with constituents. Daily, a Commissioner speaks with citizens about what they want. A particular vote on a particular issue, a complaint about taxes, a problem with a road or bridge, are just a few things that Commissioners address daily.
To effectively carry out the role of Commissioner requires making decisions. To make good decisions, a Commissioner needs good information. Gathering the necessary data and statistics requires time by the Commissioner or staff.
Meetings are a major part of every Commissioner's role. Regularly scheduled Commissioner meetings, special sessions, and public hearings are a part of the job. Attending community functions such as neighborhood meeting, business openings, school activities, socials and club meetings is also required.
Issues that Commissioners face
Routinely, Commissioners are faced with the task of raising sufficient revenue to run the government and provide the services expected by their constituents. Taxes and fees are the most common way that governments raise revenue and increases are not generally popular with citizens. An effective Commissioner educates citizens about the need for increases to continue service delivery as they expect and to maintain the quality of life in the county.
Powers and Duties of the Commissioner
- Hiring and Appointment of Individuals - The County Commissioners may hire an individual to perform a duty required of a County Officer by statute or on a commission or percentage basis if such arrangement is found by the County Commissioners to be necessary to the public interest.
- Administering County Funds and Financial Management - The County Commissioners may approve bills against the county and oversee the raising of money necessary for county expenses.
- Transactions Involving County Property - The County Commissioners may authorize the following:
- the sale of the county's public buildings and the acquisition of land upon which to build new public buildings; and
- the acquisition of land for a public square and the maintenance of that square
- Licenses and Permits - The County Commissioners may grant licenses, permits, or franchises for the use of county property if they:
- do not exclude any individual
- only last for a definite period of time
- are assignable only with the consent of the County Commissioners
- Maintenance of Courthouse, Jail, and Other Public Offices - The County Commissioners must establish and maintain a County Courthouse, County Jail, and public offices for the County Clerk, the County Auditor, the County Recorder, the County Treasurer, the County Sheriff, and the County Surveyor.
- Administration of Powers - Responsibilities and Duties
- Control, maintain, and supervise county property, including the Courthouse, Jail, Governmental Office Building, Annex Building, Youth Services Center, County Highway Garage, and Court Services Center.
- Audit and authorize claims against the County.
- Receive bids and authorize contracts.
- Supervise construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.
- Authorizes the preparation of county road maps
- Exercise the county's power of eminent domain.
- Performing certain election functions including the establishment of precincts, the providing of polling places (with an effort to make accessible to physically challenged), and the necessary equipment.
- Prepare that part of the annual budget over which County Commissioners exercise direct control.
- Issuing bonds or notes in connection with the borrowing of money for the county (subject to approval of county council).
- Establish county dog pound, county rabies control projects, and county landfills.
- Recommendations to the county council as to the amount of salary to be paid to each county officer, the number of deputies and other employees which each official may hire, as well as compensation to be paid.
- Fixing and posting speed limits on street, road, or highways within their jurisdiction
- Adopts fire prevention ordinances
- Make appointments to boards, commissions, and other agencies as provided by law.
- Acts as a court for Poor Relief Hearing.
- Serving, with the county Surveyor, as members of the County Drainage Board.
- Contracting with private persons or corporations for ambulance service.
- Serving as members on the Solid Waste District Board.
- Providing services to veterans.
- Furthering redevelopment of land.
- E-911 and Emergency Services
- County Commissioner Meetings - The Jefferson County Commissioners hold bi weekly scheduled meetings on Friday mornings at 9:00 a.m. and then on Thursday evenings at 5:30 pm. The meetings are regularly held in the Commissionerís Office (Room 103) in the Courthouse at 300 East Main Street.
- Public participation at Commissioners Meetings
- An agenda is prepared bi weekly for the Commissioners meeting. The purpose of the agenda sessions is to allow the public to address the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners on agenda items for Board consideration/adoption to the extent allowed.
- Citizens wishing to place an item on the Commissioners' Agenda should plan to submit the information to the Commissioners' secretary one-week prior to the Agenda Session date.
- The purpose of public hearings is to allow the public to provide input/testimony to the Board of County commissioners on a particular subject.
- All public hearings will be scheduled and heard in the order in which they are listed on the agenda, unless otherwise arranged.
Audience Comments - Procedure for Participation
- When recognized:
- State your name, address, and whether you are representing only yourself or others. All remarks/comments should be addressed to the Board as a body and not to any specific member. Questions should be addressed to the Chairman.
- Please limit your comments on public comment items to five (5) minutes.
- Submit all written comments to the Commissioners' secretary.