The County of Dukes County
Section II. Form of Government
The form of government provided shall be known as the “County Manager Plan” as detailed in Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 34A Section 18. The County shall be governed by the legislative powers vested in an elected board of Commissioners and executive powers vested in an appointed County Manager and by such other officers and employees as may be duly appointed pursuant to M.G.L. or County laws.

1. The Legislative Body of the County of Dukes County shall be known as the Commission and shall consist of seven (7) Commissioners elected for non-concurrent terms of four years and elected at large, With the proviso that no more than two members may be elected and serve from any one town Powers and duties of the Dukes County Commissioners are set forth in M.G.L. adopted by title by The Dukes County Home Rule Charter (DCHRC),
2. Authorities and Responsibility of the Commission: The Commission
(a) shall appoint a County Manager under the provisions of the Massachusetts General Law and the Charter and they may create the office of Deputy Manager;
The county manager may be present at all board meetings and participate in all deliberations, without the right to vote.

(b) shall appoint a Clerk to the Commission who shall serve at its pleasure and keep the records and minutes of the Commission and whose term shall not exceed three years provided that an ordinance providing for the adoption of any such term shall not be enacted between October first of any year and January first of the succeeding year;

(c) shall appoint a County counsel, who shall head the county’s legal department, and who shall serve at the pleasure of the Commission not to exceed three years provided that an ordinance providing for the adoption of any such term shall not be enacted between October first of any year and January first of the succeeding year. An administrative code may also establish a term, not to exceed three years, for the position of assistant county counsel,

d) shall appoint members of all boards and commissions and other bodies whose manner of appointment is not otherwise specified in this section in an open meeting. The appointments that MGL specifies be made solely by the Chair shall also be made in an open meeting. Unless otherwise required by MGL, there shall be a limit to one appointment of a County Commissioner to a given organization. County Commissioners cannot be appointed to an agency that compensates its members. All open positions shall be advertised in January and the appointments made in March, except where specified by MGL.

e) may pass a resolution of disapproval of a suspension or dismissal;

(f) shall approve the annual operating and capital budgets; prior to pre-senting them for advisory board appropriation; and

(g) shall select, at its organizational meeting each January, one of its members to serve as chair and one to serve as vice-chair for the year. The chair shall preside over Commission meetings except in his or her ab-sence the vice-chair shall preside.

(h) shall pass, in accordance with this chapter, whatever ordinances and resolutions it deems necessary and proper for the good governance of the County.

i) shall abide by the Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law and any “Code of Ethics” the Commissioners approve subsequent to the adoption of the Administrative Codes. Every elected and appointed official is prohibited from participating in any particular matter in which he or she or any member of their immediate family has a financial interest.

3.  The legislative power of the county shall be vested in the board of commissioners.  Such legislative power shall be exercised by ordinance, except for the exercise of the following powers, which are required to be, or are permitted to be, exercised by resolution:

(a) The establishment of a municipal advisory council;

(b) The conduct of an inquiry or investigation;

(c) The expression of disapproval of the suspension or dismissal of officers or employees;

(d) The adoption of rules for the board;

(e) The establishment of times and places for board meetings; which shall be held in different towns from time to time during the year;

(f) The establishment of the board as a committee of the whole and the delegation of any number of its members as an ad hoc committee.

(g) The declaration of emergencies;

(h) The identification of emergency situations;

(i) The establishment of county personnel policies;

(j) The election, appointment and removal of such officers and employees as the board is permitted by law;

(k) Designation of newspapers; for required advertisements and notices.

(l) Approval of contracts presented by the county manager

(m) Actions specified as resolutions; and

(n) The expression of such board policies or opinions as require no formal board action.

4.  Ordinances Required, When: In addition to such other acts as required by general laws the following acts of the Commissioners are required to be by ordinance and shall be introduced with the enacting clause “The Commissioners of the County of Dukes County hereby ordain:”

 (a) To establish, alter or abolish any County department or agency;

 (b) To provide for fine or other penalty or establish a rule or regulation for violation of which a fine or other penalty is imposed,

 (c) To grant, renew or extend a franchise;

 (d) To regulate the rate charged for any service provided to any other governmental unit;

 (e) To authorize the borrowing of money;
  (f) To authorize the rental, purchase, sale or lease of any real estate belonging to the County;

 (g) To authorize bilateral or multilateral contracts with other governmental units within the County or for the performance of any governmental function or activity by another government;

  (h) To adopt, alter or abandon any ordinances, with or without amendment, proposed by any initiative or referendum as provided in this document.

5. Ordinance Process

(a)  A proposed ordinance may be introduced by any member of the Commission or by the County Manager at any regular or special meeting of the Commission. The Clerk of the Commissioners shall forthwith distrib-ute copies of the proposal at least 3 days prior to meetings to each Commissioner. After an ordi-nance has been introduced and unless it is rejected at the same meeting by the negative vote of at least two-thirds of the Commissioners, present and voting, its title and synopsis shall be legally published together with a notice stating a time and place at which a public hearing will be held on its consideration.

(b)  The public hearing on a proposed ordinance shall follow the required publication by at least two weeks. At the public hearing copies of the proposal shall be available for distribution to interested persons and all persons present shall be given the opportunity to be heard, subject only to time constraints.

(c)  The Commissioners may adopt by a minimum of 4 Commissioners, with or without amendment, or reject any proposed ordinance following the public hearing and shall declare the ordi-nance to be law of the County on the thirty-first day after its passage.

(d) Emergency Ordinances, when: The Commissioners may adopt emer-gency ordinances under appropriate circumstances affecting lives, health or property.

        1) Such emergency ordinances shall be submitted in the same manner as other proposed ordinances, but, every emergency measure shall be plainly designated as such and shall contain a preamble, which shall be separately voted upon, which declares that an emergency exists and which describes the emergency in clear and specific terms.
        2) Such ordinance shall only be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Commissioners and shall stand repealed on the ninety-first day following its passage.                

6. Resolutions: The Commissioners shall exercise their power by ordinance except for the exercise of the following powers which shall be exercised by resolution and shall contain the enacting clause “Therefore be it Resolved by the Commissioners of the County of Dukes County”. Resolutions may be passed for:

 (a) The establishment of municipal advisory board, committee or council;
  (b)   The conduct of an inquiry or investigation;
  (c)   The expression of disapproval of the suspension or dismissal of officers or employees;
  (d)   The adoption of rules for the Commission;

 (e)   The establishment of times and places for Commission meetings;
  (f)   The establishment of the Commission as a committee of the whole and the delegation of any number of its members as an ad hoc committee.

  (g)   The declaration of emergencies;

 (h) The establishment and modification of county personnel policies;

 (i)   The election, appointment and removal of such officers and employees as the Commission are permitted by law;

  (j)   Designation of newspapers for required advertisements and notices;

 (k)   Approval of contracts presented by the County Manager;

 (l)   Actions specified as resolutions; and

  (m) The expression of such Commission opinions that require more formal Commission action.

7.  Commission Meeting Protocol:

(a)  The Chair of the Commissioners shall conduct the meeting and shall insure such meetings are held in accordance with the Commonwealth’s open meetings law.

(b)  Commission meeting events shall generally follow the format of:

  • Call to Order
  • Adoption of minutes of previous meeting, if any
  • County Manager’s report
  • Chair’s report and communications
  • Subcommittee reports
  • Old business
  • New business
  • Commissioner’s requests, if any, and approved by Chair for placement on agenda
  • Calendar
  • Correspondence
  • Public comment, and
  • Adjournment             
  (c)  Additional protocol designed to establish meeting for information dissemination, requests for action, debate, quorum, and votes shall be made upon adoption of appropriate guidelines as provided in Robert’s  Rules of Order.

  (d)  Any motion shall be restated by the Chair after its second, and, again, prior to vote

  (e) Meetings of the Commissioners are dedicated solely to the official business of the legislative branch of the Home Rule Charter government of the County of Dukes County.  Citizens of the County are urged to attend all Commission meetings.  Public comments about any item on the meeting agenda are not required but the Chair may, upon majority vote by the Commissioners and with due consideration to meeting time constraints, establish a period of the meeting which may be devoted to public comment.

8. Attendance

(a) Commissioners are expected to attend each meeting of the Commission fully prepared to vote on all items on any agenda matter which properly is the business of the Commissioners and lawfully may come before them.

(b) Upon the declaration of a vacancy in the position of Commissioner, the surviving Board members and County Clerk shall direct that a public notice be prepared announcing the vacancy and requesting interested and qualified citizens to apply to the County with a letter of interest, according to provisions in the Law.

(c) Qualification will consist of:

  • Residence in one of the towns, which, at the time of the vacancy, has less than two representatives on the Board of Commissioners.
  • Minimum age of eighteen years.
(d) Within sixty (60) days of the declaration of a vacancy, the Commissioners shall name a replacement who shall be sworn to fill the remainder of the vacant term.

B. County Manager

1.      The County Manager shall be qualified by administrative and executive experience and ability to serve as the chief executive of the county. He shall be appointed by a majority vote of the Commissioners and shall serve for an indefi-nite term. He may be removed by a majority vote of the Commission subject to due notice and public hearing. Such notice shall be in writing and shall be ac-companied by a bill of particular charges and complaints and said public hearing on these charges shall be held no less than fifteen nor more than thirty days after personal service of notice and charges. At the time of his appointment the manager need not be a resident of the county but must reside on Martha’s Vineyard after the incumbents initial probationary period.
2.      The salary of the County Manager shall be fixed by the commissioners; such salary shall be reasonable and commensurate with the fact that the position of County Manager is and shall be a full-time position. The salary of the County Manager may not be lowered during his tenure in office.

3.      The office of the County Manager shall be deemed vacant if: the incumbent moves his residence from the county without Board permission; or he is by physical or mental illness or other casualty unable to continue to serve as County Manager. Any vacancy in the office of County Manager shall be filled in the manner prescribed by Clause 1 of Subsection B of this section. The Commissioners may appoint the deputy manager or any department head to serve as Acting County Manager until a successor has been appointed. During the temporary absence or temporary disability of the County Manager the deputy manager or a department head designated by the manager if there be no deputy manager, shall serve as Acting County Manager,
4.      The executive power of the County of Dukes County shall be exercised by the County Manager. The County Manager shall:

(a) Report annually to the Commissioners, the advisory board on county expenditures, and to the people, on the state of the county, the work of the previous year, and he shall also recommend to the Commission whatever action or programs he deems necessary for the improvement of the county and welfare of its residents. He may from time to time at his discretion recommend any course of action or programs he deems necessary or desirable for the county to undertake;

(b) Prepare and submit to the Commission for its consideration and adoption an annual operating budget, and a capital budget, establish schedules and procedures to be followed by all county departments,    offices and agencies in connection therewith, and supervise and administer all phases of the budgetary process.

(c) Enforce the county charter, the county’s laws and all general laws applicable thereto:

(d) Supervise the care and custody of all county property, institutions and agencies;

(e) Through the County Treasurer, have oversight on the collection of revenues, audit and control all disbursements and expenditures and shall prepare a complete account of all expenditures;

(f) Sign all contracts, bonds or other instruments requiring the consent of the County  

(g) Organize the work of county departments subject to the administrative code adopted by the Commission. He shall further review their administration and operation and make recommendations   pertaining thereto to the Commissioners.

(h) Review, analyze and forecast trends of county services and finances and programs of all boards, commissions, agencies and other County bodies, and report and recommend thereon to the Commission;

(i) Develop, install and maintain centralized budgeting, personnel and purchasing procedures as may be authorized.

(j) Negotiate contracts for the County and make recommendations concerning the nature and a location of County improvements and execute improvements determined by the Commissioners,

(k) Assure that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the County or its inhabitants in any statute, franchise or other contract, are faithfully kept and performed
(l) Serve, as ex-officio, nonvoting member of all appointive bodies in County government.       

5. The County Manager:                                                   

(a) Shall supervise, direct and control all County administrative departments;

(b) Shall appoint the Deputy Manager, if that position is created by the Commission, the heads of all County departments and divisions created within such departments, and all other administrative officers and County personnel the manner of whose appointment is not prescribed elsewhere in this section;

(c) May, at his discretion, remove or suspend any official in the unclassified service of the County over whose office the County Manager has power of appointmen;

(d) May, at his discretion, but subject to any pertinent provisions of the gen-eral laws delegate any department head powers of appointment and removal of their departmental employees. If the County Manager does not so delegate his power he may appoint and remove, subject to civil service regulation, all employees whose positions have been created.

(e) May require and examine the accounts, records and operation of any agency of County government; and

(f) May, at his discretion, order any agency under his jurisdiction to under-take any task for any other agency on a temporary basis if he deems it necessary for the proper and efficient administration to do so.

6.  Deputy Manager.

(a) Subject to creation of such position the County Manager may appoint a Deputy Manager who shall serve at his pleasure; the Board may not prevent his suspension or dismissal by passage of a resolution of dis-approval.

(b) The Deputy Manager shall by education, experience and ability be qualified to perform the duties established for him. He need not be a resident of the County at the time of his appointment, but during his tenure may live outside the County only with the permission of the Manager.

(c) The Deputy Manager shall be responsible only to the Manager. He shall, under the direction and supervision of the Manager, undertake to assist in the orderly and efficient administration of the County, performing whatever supervisory or administrative duties the Manager deems neces-sary and proper. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the Deputy Manager’s being appointed to head one or more departments on a temporary or permanent basis.