Path to becoming a city

Friday, October 23, 2009

Step 1: Board of Supervisors passes ordinance to petition Circuit Court for order declaring that county is eligible for city form of government.

Step 2: Circuit Court notifies Virginia Supreme Court, which appoints a three-judge Special Court to hear the case.

Step 3: If a majority of three-judge Special Court finds that county meets preliminary criteria, the Special Court orders a special election to determine whether county residents want the General Assembly to grant the county a municipal charter. This referendum must be held no sooner than 180 days and no later than 300 days afterward.

Step 4: After the Circuit Court order, the Board of Supervisors appoints a seven-member charter commission to draft a charter for a new city.

Charter spells out:

-- Orderly transition from county to city, including which towns would become city's townships

-- Assumption of debts and other obligations

-- Transfer of assets

Optional provisions could include:

-- Permitting special tax for areas that might have incurred debts

-- Allowing some areas to be taxed differently for period of time

Step 5: Public hearing on draft charter.

Step 6: After a public hearing, the Board of Supervisors adopts charter with revisions the board deems appropriate.

Step 7: If approved by a majority of voters, the charter goes to the General Assembly for possible approval. If rejected by voters, no other such election for change of government may be held for three years.

Step 8: If enacted by the General Assembly, the city charter would take effect July 1 of the next year.

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