City to town reversions not unheard of in Virginia

Since 1995, South Boston, Clifton Forge and Bedford have all become towns

By Caitlin Blankenship - Intern

Left: South Boston, Va. (Credit: Elvert Barnes by a CC BY 2.0 license); Top Right: Clifton Forge, Va. (Credit: Taber Andrew Bain by a CC BY 2.0 license); Bottom Right: Bedford, Va. (Credit: Doug Kerr by a CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

While it hasn't happened often, since 1995, three former Virginia cities have become towns through the process of reversion.

Due to fiscal stress, the former cities of South Boston, Clifton Forge and Bedford are all now towns. 

The process of reversion does not guarantee tax reductions or budget growth, as those are all dependent upon what the surrounding county and city agree upon. 

Below are the effects and changes that happened in each of the now-reverted towns. 

South Boston (Became a city in 1959; reverted to a town in Halifax County in 1995)

  • A total of 29,000 additional residents absorbed costs for public services.
  • Recycling and other public services were reduced or eliminated.
  • The new town budget was 20 percent lower than the old city budget.
  • Property taxes were reduced.

Clifton Forge (Became a city in 1906; reverted to a town in Halifax County in 1995)

  • Property taxes were reduced.
  • Town no longer required to pay construction costs for the regional jail facility. 
  • The town was preserved as a distinct and active political entity retaining its separate community identity.

Bedford (Became a city in 1782; reverted to a town in Bedford County in 2013)

  • More than $7 million in general funding was cut.
  • Thirty-two positions city-wide were lost, mostly belonging to those employed by the Bedford Regional Water Authority. 
  • The town gained 6,000 residents and 7 square miles. 

In order for a city to be reverted, the population must fall below 50,000 people.

This decision is managed by the Virginia Commission on Local Government and is then decided by a three-judge court. 

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