MARTINSVILLE, Va. – After nearly 70 years of discussing it, the City of Martinsville made its intent to revert to town status and to be absorbed by Henry County.
On Tuesday night, city council unanimously approved the motion and said that there is no longer time to put it off. A presentation by an outside consultant showed the town could eliminate more than $30 million in cost through the move.
Henry County would be responsible for taking over things like schools and social services, while the new town would remain responsible for emergency response and some other things. There are still other details that need to be figured out.
An aging and declining population, tied with decreasing tax revenues and decreasing state assistance mean the city’s financials don’t look hopeful in the future. The school system is a major strain on the budget as well.
“While we run a very efficient city, we just can’t continue to dip into the reserves. At some point in time it’s like taking from your savings account every month to pay a bill, at some point in time you’re not going to have sufficient funds there,” said Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson.
Two former Mayors spoke before the council during public comment and said the reversion process is the right thing to do. The city will next perform a series of studies to learn more about what reversion could look like.
The decision ultimately will lie with a three-judge court to approve or deny the petition.