Form of Government
Historical Background and Composition
County government in Virginia has its roots in the old English system which provided for county courts as the principal local governing body. The first West Virginia Constitution in 1863 did away with the county courts and provided for a township system. Town meetings were the governing device and boards of township supervisors handled the general management of county business. Several officers, however, including the sheriff, surveyor of lands, recorder, assessor and prosecuting attorney, were elected on a county wide basis The 1872 Constitution restored the old county court system with some modifications. The court consisted of a president elected at large and justices of the peace. Then came the state’s Judiciary Amendment of 1880 which generally provided for three-member, elective bodies—and which stripped the commissioners of all judicial functions except limited ones in such fields as settlement of accounts and appointment of guardians. Section 10, article 9 of the Constitution provides for a three member commission, one to be elected each two years for a term of six years. No two of the commissioners shall be elected from the same magisterial district… The 1880 Judiciary Amendment contained the following proviso: “such tribunals as have been heretofore established by the legislature under and by virtue of the Constitution of 1872 for police and fiscal purposes shall, until otherwise provided by law, remain and continue as presently constituted.” This proviso has never been changed and remains in effect. This accounts for those counties in which the commission has or has had something other than a three member commission. Presently only one county commission remains under this proviso.