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Reversion maintains steam during economic hit from COVID-19

By Brandon Martin

In the midst of economic uncertainty across the country, Martinsville Assistant City Manager and City Attorney Eric Monday said the city is still on the road to reversion.

Mayor Kathy Lawson also said that her opinion about reversion has not changed since the coronavirus “hit.”

“Our city has been pulling funds from reserve to balance our budget for far too long. We cannot continue to do this, and the city manager has made this comment year after year during our budget work sessions,” she said. “We are a financially sound city, however we are as bare as bones can be when it comes to our budget. Council has ‘kicked this can’ down the street for long enough. It’s time that city representatives sit down with county representatives to come to a resolution of how we can move forward as one.”

Vice mayor Chad Martin said that economic uncertainties due to the coronavirus should not alter the city’s course to reversion.

“The time is always right to do the right thing,” he said quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Noting the shared identity that the two localities have, Martin said he would like to sit down and talk to find a “win-win” situation with the county.

Council member Jim Woods also agrees that moving forward with reversion is needed, and credited Lawson and Martin for their leadership.

“They see this as something we should take care of instead of passing the buck,” he said.

The three are up for re-election this year – the results of which Woods said will be a test of whether or not the city residents are on the same page as their leaders.

“We are all up for re-election,” he said. “If we are not re-elected, then the people have spoken.”

Council member Danny Turner agreed that now is still “the best time” to move forward with reversion.

Citing factors like the local composite index, which determines state funding to schools, Turner said “the difference in numbers is just too big. We are going to need some help. We’ve got to move forward and I’d say we’ve put it on long enough.”

Council member Jennifer Bowles said that her thoughts on reversion have remained the same as before the coronavirus.

“I would like the Board of Supervisors to sit down with the City Council and have a real conversation about moving forward,” she said. “Every time we try to speak with them, there are so many loopholes to jump through. The city has requested on numerous occasions to have an open conversation.”

One candidate in the race for a seat on City Council this year said reversion is a key reason for his candidacy.

“We need reversion,” Nelson Edwards said. “We don’t have the tax base and we are going to need solid leadership in place for that.”

Tammy Pearson, who also will be on the ballot, could not be reached for comment by press time.

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