City-County reversion

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The City of Charlottesville considered reverting to a "town" status within the Albemarle County in the 1990s. Reversion is one of the limited circumstances under which the City-County Revenue Sharing Agreement can be terminated. Under Virginia's city-county separation structure, a city reversion has significant ramifications, as the territory of the former city becomes a part of the surrounding county.

Cities that change to "town" status gain the authority to expand its boundaries through annexation. That option is not available to cities due to a moratorium imposed by the General Assembly, but there is no moratorium on annexations by towns.[1] In 1988, the General Assembly passed an act allowing any city with a population of fewer than 50,000 inhabitants to petition for reversion to town status. Under this law the reversion process is managed by the Virginia Commission on Local Government and ultimately decided by a three-judge court.

In the absence of annexation authority, some cities have studied city reversion as a means to solve some of their problems. "Under provisions first passed in 1988, any city with a population of less than 50,000 may revert to town status after fulfilling certain requirements. The reversion petition is decided by a special court and does not require approval from the affected county or by residents of either locality. The reversion process may also be initiated by a petition of city voters." [2]HJR 432 | Commission on the Condition and Future of Virginia's Cities | June 3, 1998 | Richmond

1960s reversion debate

Twelve consolidation committees submitted reports on a proposed merger to City Council and the Board of Supervisors in 1969.[3]

1990s reversion debate

"During the 1990s, the city considered reversion, a state-sanctioned method of uniting the city and county. Reversion to town status was an approach to helping local governments that the state legislature had passed in 1989. If a city reverted to town status, the new town would be legally a part of the county, instead of a separate entity. Thus the town schools would be supported by county revenue making the Index moot; other departments might be combined to save money."[ref 1]

As of November 26, 1995 petitioners had gathered 1,700 of the needed 2,750 to initiate the reversion process.[4]

Resolution of the 1990s debate

"The issue sparked tense standoffs between the city and county in the 1990s, but due to years of legal wrangling and the city’s then-brightening financial picture, the debate had largely faded from view by the end of that decade.
In 1996, the citizen-led Town Reversion Committee filed a pro-reversion petition in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Eight months later, a three-judge panel appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the filing on technical grounds. Both the citizen group and the City Council appealed, and the full court reversed the panel’s dismissal in 1999.
The pro-reversion group dropped its push shortly thereafter, citing mounting legal bills and little appetite for further court battles.
The City Council officially killed the previous reversion efforts by a unanimous vote at its last meeting of 1999." [ref 2] [5].

2010s reversion debate

In January 2012, City Councilor Kathy Galvin suggested reversion might be an action to consider if Albemarle County was successful in its effort to get the General Assembly to pass a budget amendment that took revenue sharing into consideration as part of the composite index that determines the state's budget contribution to city schools. The bill submitted by Delegate Rob Bell would have the effect of shifting $2.5 million annually from city schools to county schools.[ref 3]

Reversion or Consolidation Studies


Reversion studies

  1. Web. Possible Reversion of Charlottesville to Town Status: Impact on Schools, Educational Consulting Service, Ltd., available through Charlottesville Tomorrow, 29 Aug 1996, retrieved 9 Apr 2010.

Other references

  1. Web. Revenue sharing—how it came to this, Daugherty, Virginia, Gleason, Elizabeth B., and O'Brien, Nancy, Daily Progress, 21 Mar 2010, retrieved 9 Apr 2010.
  2. Web. Galvin floats idea of reversion discussion, Graham Moomaw, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, 25 Jan 2012, retrieved 26 Jan 2012.
  3. Web. Galvin floats idea of reversion discussion, Graham Moomaw, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, 25 Jan 2012, retrieved 26 Jan 2012.