Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a periodic column in The Mount Airy News, featuring commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County. The following column was submitted by county officials as a commentary representative of the entire Surry County Board of Commissioners.
Surry County Government is a hybrid of state and local services with various management structures. This column will serve as an educational piece so that citizens understand Surry County Government structure.
Departments that report to the county manager include: Mount Airy/Surry County Airport, 911 Communications, Development Services, Emergency Services, Facilities Management, Finance, Human Resources, Management Information Systems, Opioid Response, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, Social Services, Tax and Veterans Services.
The Mount Airy/Surry County Airport Authority, which is comprised of the five-member Surry County Board of Commissioners and two members from the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners, oversees the physical development of the airport, adopts rules and policies, sets fees and helps guide management decisions, while the county manages operations contractually with an airport manager.
Development Services carries out planning, zoning, permitting, inspections and code enforcement. Facilities Management oversees maintenance for all county-owned buildings. Management Information Systems manages desktop and laptop computers, software, phones, servers and technology training of all county employees, as well as public Wi-Fi locations. Opioid Response assists residents with substance abuse education, prevention and recovery efforts. Public Works runs the landfill and solid waste convenience centers in Surry County. Veterans Services connects veterans with resources that are available to them because of their service to our country.
The county manager, with advisement from the Surry County Board of Commissioners, provides directives to the departments listed above.
The following departments do not report to the county manager and county commissioners: Sheriff’s Office, Health & Nutrition Center, Board of Elections, Cooperative Extension and Soil and Conservation.
The sheriff is an elected official and manages the sheriff’s office. The Board of Health is appointed by the county commissioners and oversees the Health & Nutrition Center. The Board of Health has a specific criteria for who is on their board, including doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and engineers. The Board of Elections is appointed and appoints a director. Cooperative Extension is a part of NC State University and helps farmers and agriculturalists in each county – the employees are appointed by NC State. Soil and Conservation has a county board, which is partially elected and partially appointed – they hire a district director. The county commissioners’ role, with respect to these departments (which do not report to them), is to provide sufficient operational funding.
These factors make county government different than city government – almost every city department head is appointed by the city manager and advised by a city council or city board of commissioners.
For more information about Surry County Government, log onto www.co.surry.nc.us. More information about cCounty government in North Carolina is located at www.ncacc.org.