Martinsville City Council members hold first reversion work session

Council considering updating 2013 reversion study


MARTINSVILLE, Va. – For much of Wednesday night's roughly hour long work session, Martinsville City Council members compared the five-year financial projections for the city in the 2013 reversion study to what actually happened in the city over those five years.

"The study indicated basically that we were going to run out of money in five years," Martinsville mayor Gene Teague said.

The city didn't run out of money, but the reality is essentially still the same.

The city has to either revert or make what the city manager calls painful cuts to the city's budget each year.

Teague said council members voted not to pursue reversion after the 2013 study.

By law, that study has to be updated before council members can take another vote.

"Obviously, we'd probably use some of the same folks (to update the study) we used last time. It would just be an update. It wouldn't be as expensive to update the prior study as it was to do the original study," Teague said.

Cost estimates will be presented at the next city council meeting.

Updating the 2013 study could take three to four months.

If it's updated, one thing council members want to address is the assumptions the company that did the 2013 study used to conduct the study.

Teague said he would like a list of the assumptions made so that before the study is updated council members can discuss the assumptions with the company doing the update.

The hpe is that this will help produce a more accurate update.  

"Frankly, I have always supported reversion," Former Martinsville mayor and now-Henry County resident Barry Greene said after the work session.

He said the biggest misconception is that the county would have to take on the city's debt service.

"All of the previous studies stated clearly that the city would keep its debt," Greene said.

He's also not worried that reversion could have a negative impact on county residents.

"The county, (the 2013 study) projected, it was a miniscule (tax increase). It was, like, 3.2 cents. However, (the 2013 study) projected no synergy savings from merging the constitutional offices and I don't think that's going to be," Greene said. "I think you will have savings and you will offset the three cents." 

If the 2013 study is updated, public hearings would be held afterward to get feedback from residents before any decision is made.