Martinsville City Council could vote on reversion next month

Public hearing expected to be scheduled Tuesday for Dec. 10

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Decades of debate about reversion could reach another milestone on Dec. 10.

Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said Tuesday afternoon that’s when a meeting was expected to be scheduled for City Council members to get feedback from city residents.

“Theoretically, (City Council members) could vote at that meeting,” Towarnicki said.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, officials gave a presentation about how reversion works.

City Council members started preparing for a vote about a year ago when they decided to have the 2013 reversion studies updated.

2013 was the last time the city took a vote on reversion, choosing not to revert.

“At least for the time being, if they vote to revert it doesn’t really change anything about what we would do with our next year’s budget,” Towarnicki said.

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said if a vote to pursue reversion comes on Dec. 10, finally knowing what the city plans to do won’t offer any relief from the uncertainty of the past year as the city has worked towards a vote.

“That just means the real hard work, the real gut-wrenching work, starts at that point," Hall said.

The county has asked state legislators to allow counties to decide whether or not to accept a city wanting to revert to a town and become part of their surrounding county.

Currently, counties have no choice. If a city reverts, the surrounding county is forced to accept it as a town.

Legislators had not made a decision as of Tuesday on the county’s request, but Hall said if the request is denied and Martinsville reverts, the county will work with the city.

“I think we’re willing to work with anybody, but our goal as county employees, as folks who represent the citizens of Henry County, our goal is to provide the best possible outcome for our residents," Hall said.

The only impact a decision on Dec. 10 to revert would likely have on the county’s next budget, he said, would be including legal fees in the budget for working through the reversion process.