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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Lawmakers working on legislation to help city

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

State Sen. Bill Stanley said Tuesday he and other area lawmakers are trying to develop “a package of legislation that will save Martinsville” from financial constraints, hopefully without the city having to revert to town status.

That package could include short-term financial aid and measures aimed at “shoring up” things that affect city finances, said Stanley, R-Glade Hill.

If such a package can be developed, the General Assembly would consider it upon reconvening on Jan. 8.

In recent decades, Martinsville has lost thousands of jobs due to industries and other businesses closing, resulting in the city usually having the state’s highest monthly unemployment rate.

Also, the city’s expenses continue to increase as revenues stay stagnant, officials have said. City budgets in the past few fiscal years were balanced with reserve funds. But the reserve could run dry in 2017, a recent study of reversion showed.

“We believe in Martinsville” and its ability to create and recruit new jobs, Stanley said of himself and other area legislators, and “we don’t want to see the white flag (of surrender) go up.”

Stanley said he would like to “see if we can avoid reversion” due to possible negative effects it would have, especially on Henry County’s tax rates as well as Martinsville schools.

The recent reversion study showed county taxpayers could face a 3.2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate if Martinsville reverts due to the county having to expand services to Martinsville residents. That hike would result if the county covered all its increased expenses through the real estate tax.

If the county takes over the city schools and closes them, Stanley said, city students might be bused long distances.

Furthermore, he said, any changes in a student’s learning environment “can be very uncomfortable ... and cause a hindrance” to learning.

 

 
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