Martinsville council hears from South Boston about possible city to town reversion

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Martinsville City Council members got a firsthand look at the reality of reverting from a city to a town. 

South Boston was the first city in the Commonwealth to revert to a town. At Tuesday's council meeting, South Boston's town manager spoke about the reasoning for the change -- concerns about the financial future, a need to annex, and the duplication of services like fire and rescue and social services. He says it was a make or break decision. 

"We wouldn't be there. We'd be bankrupt. We couldn't afford it so we had to do it," said Tom Raab, South Boston town manager.

As the city of Martinsville enters into discussions about the possibility of reversion, Raab had some words of caution. He says the county and city need to make sure any change to tax rates is reasonable. But most importantly, the county and city need to come together and make sure both parties find value in the benefits. 

"The biggest thing is there will be tax advantages on both sides," said Raab.

Members of council had plenty of questions for Raab. They have made it clear this is only the beginning of the conversation, but residents are already finding their voice for the future of Martinsville. 

"I really don't see any reason why this should have to change because I like the idea that if someone wants to live in a city they can live in Martinsville," said Patrick Wright, a Martinsville resident.

"I am in favor of reversion and have been for 30 years. Martinsville just cannot afford to remain a city, we just don't need the extra expenses," said Bill Moorefield, a Martinsville resident.


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