Petersburg to assess converting from city to town

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Petersburg might be changing its status from a city to a town. City Council voted Tuesday to form a committee to assess reverting its status and to review the city’s charter.

“That is a judicial process that starts with the commission on local government and then it goes to the courts when a city reverts to town status,” Petersburg’s Interim City Attorney Mark Flynn said.

Flynn said when a city changes its status, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It costs a lot of money in legal fees, expert witness fees; you have to invest in economists that can describe what is going to happen,” Flynn said.

So what would it take for Petersburg to convert? Officials say state and local analysis would have to be conducted to determine the benefits and/or burdens to the citizens.

If the City of Petersburg does revert to a town, officials say a county would be responsible for major services and departments including schools, roads, police and fire. Some council members tell 8News they disagree with the decision and only a charter review is needed.

“Our charter had not been reviewed since 1973 over 43 years ago,” Treska Wilson-Smith said. “There were citizens that had questions and thought we needed an update.”

Officials say there are likely many revisions that need updating. The groups is expected to look at provisions relating to the election of key public officials including the mayor and vice-mayor positions.

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