A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee has killed two bills that would have allowed local residents to have a say in Martinsville’s reversion.
House Bills 492 and 493 would have required approval from voters in both Martinsville and Henry County, respectively, before the city could surrender its charter and become a town within the county. The Charters subcommittee of the House Counties, Cities & Towns committee voted 5-3 last week to lay the bills on the table.
Among the three dissenting votes was Del. Charles Poindexter, who represents part of Henry County.
Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) had introduced the bills in response to a request from Henry County leaders. Before the General Assembly session began, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved a legislative agenda asking for the county to be given a voice in the process.
Hearing that the bills had failed, Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said he was not surprised, because earlier legislative efforts were also unsuccessful. Marshall introduced similar bills on behalf of Henry County in 2006 and 2014.
After decades of discussing the reversion issue, Martinsville City Council voted in December to begin the process and voted on a proclamation at its most recent meeting to reinforce that process as a defensive move against potential legislation.
In a recent budget planning session of Henry County staff and board members, Hall said, “Our process has begun, too.”
The county has attorneys and forensic accountants reviewing information in preparation for action by the city, Hall said, and relevant information has been posted online for citizens at www.henrycountyva.gov/reversion.
“I’m hoping we can have a public presentation of our findings in the near future. I think it’s essential that we present it in a public forum so that everyone hears the same thing at the same time,” he said.
In response to criticism that county and city officials should meet and plan for reversion, Hall said, “Some people say, ‘Why aren’t you guys talking about this?’ There’s really nothing we can do about this. This is a city-driven effort. We” — i.e. Henry County — “have to react to it,” he said.