The City of Martinsville will become the Town of Martinsville effective July 1, 2023, exactly one year after City officials had requested and one year before County officials wanted.
"The draft version of the report will remain as such until staff is able to incorporate changes discussed in today's commission meeting," said Commission on Local Government Director David Conmy. "We hope to have the final report taken care of next week."
The draft will remain essentially intact, recommending the Voluntary Settlement Agreement (VSA) between Henry County and Martinsville be accepted in its entirety.
Conmy made clear that although questions regarding the legality of the VSA have been raised, the commission is only required to determine if the proposal is in the best interest of the state and then to present its findings to a three-judge panel for review.
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"The commission does not or cannot reach or conclude any questions regarding legality," said Conmy. "This will be determined by a court of local jurisdictions."
Conmy said the commission's recommendation is a "finding of fact only" and "not legal opinion."
Commission members added a recommendation that Clearview Early Learning Center be included in the city school buildings slated to be transferred to Henry County Public Schools and that two new voting districts be created in Henry County instead of one.
The commission concluded that 2022 was too early to complete the most complicated reversion in the state's history, but the fiscal stress on the City of Martinsville was too great to wait until the County's requested effective date of 2024, so a compromise was recommended between the two.
"In the next steps, the local governing bodies will adopt the report, either the original or a version amended by both parties and may require additional review," Conmy said. "Also a public hearing will be held, and then a local circuit court judge will request a three-judge panel [be established] with the commission's report submitted as evidence."
Find complete coverage of this story in Sunday's edition of the Martinsville Bulletin.