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Candidates: Wait on reversion data
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
A majority of the candidates for the Henry County Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 5 election favor waiting to hear from Martinsville officials before weighing in on the possibility of the city reverting to a town status.
The city commissioned studies of the issue, which have been given to the city administration.
Last week, Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarniki said he anticipates a summary of the studies to be presented to Martinsville City Council members during an Oct. 8 meeting, with a special closed-door work session being held not long afterward, according to previous reports.
Incumbent Iriswood District Supervisor Milton Kendall said the ball is in the city’s court.
“They have to make the first step,” he said. “I’d like to see them remain the city, but if they can’t, I would like to see them merge rather than become a town.”
Kendall said if the city becomes a town it would have the ability to annex county property within the next few years as a way of increasing the town’s tax base. Annexation “would not solve our problems. I think it would make more,” he said, adding that he is concerned about reversion’s impact on taxes.
For now, “we don’t have any proposal before us, so we don’t need to jump to conclusions,” he added.
Political newcomer Pat Favero, who is challenging Kendall’s bid for a second term, said “we need to take an ample of amount of time to study the study that has been performed on reversion. The statistics can be manipulated to show what the person doing the study wants them to show.”
Favero noted that county officials would need time to analyze the results of the studies before responding to a reversion proposal from the city.
“Ultimately, I guess the decision lies with the city, but I would say until all the details are out, I would remain neutral,” Favero said. “I would hate to see the county’s tax rate increase due to the city reverting, and I think that would be the biggest concern,” he said.
Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant also said the supervisors need to see what the city does on the issue.
“Until we hear something from them, there’s really not a comment we can make,” Bryant said. “I don’t know what the city wants at this point, and I don’t think they will know until they have time to go through the study. I don’t want to make a comment until I know what it says.”
Randy Scott, who is challenging Bryant’s bid for a second term in the Nov. 5 election, did not return a call for comment.
Jim Adams, current chairman of the board who is unopposed in his bid for a fourth term as supervisor, said “controlling costs is one thing. Passing debt on is another, and when all is said and done, it is still going to cost a certain amount of money to educate children, for example. That is whether they live in the city or the county” and regardless of which locality is paying.
“Henry County has concentrated on controlling its costs, even by delaying capital improvement projects, to avoid passing those costs onto our residents,” Adams said. “We continue to evaluate those costs and we remain cautious, even though there is a slight economic uptick.”
Not all localities have exercised as much caution, Adams said.
For example, some localities at the national level “have not cut costs and overextended themselves, and they have found themselves in a precarious position,” he said.