Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
5/28/2017

Article 2. Consolidation of Certain Counties, Cities and Towns.

§ 15.2-3520. Counties, cities and towns specified; alternative consolidations.

By complying with the requirements specified in this article, any one or more counties or cities having a common boundary, or any county and all incorporated towns located entirely therein, may consolidate into a single county or city; however, no consolidation instituted under the provisions of this article shall result in the creation of consolidated cities, unless such proposed consolidation is reviewed by the Commission on Local Government and a special court established pursuant to § 15.2-3522 and they meet the criteria set out in subsection A of § 15.2-3526.

The term "incorporated towns" as used in this article means only those incorporated towns which have held municipal elections in the ten years preceding the date of the filing of a petition for a referendum pursuant to § 15.2-3529.

If two or more like units of local government propose to consolidate into a consolidated like unit of local government, they shall do so in accordance with the provisions of Article 1 of this chapter.

This article applies to the (i) consolidation of unlike units of local governments such as a county and a city joining to form either a county or city; (ii) consolidation of like units of local governments into an unlike unit of local government such as a county and a county joining to form a city; or (iii) other combinations provided for herein.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.1; 1983, c. 4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3521. Proposed consolidated city; notice of motion; service and publication.

At least thirty days before instituting a proceeding under the provisions of this article for the creation of a consolidated city, the counties and cities proposing to consolidate shall serve notice on the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for the city or county, and on the chairman of the governing body or mayor of each county and city having a common boundary that they will, on a given day, petition the circuit court for a determination of whether the proposed consolidated city is eligible for city status. The notice served on each official shall include a certified copy of the consolidation agreement. A copy of the notice and the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the notice and agreement and a reference to the place within the city or town where copies of the notice and agreement may be examined, shall be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in some newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in the localities which are parties to the agreement. The notice and consolidation agreement shall be returned after service to the clerk of the circuit court. Certification of the owner, editor or manager of the newspaper publishing the notice and agreement shall be proof of publication.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.2; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3522. Petition; appointment of special court.

When a consolidation agreement proposing the creation of a consolidated city in accordance with § 15.2-3529 has been adopted, the original of the consolidation agreement, a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies, signed by the chairman, the mayor and the clerk of each such body, and certificates of publication as provided for in § 15.2-3521 shall be presented to a circuit court having jurisdiction over one or more of the localities. Upon receipt of the consolidation agreement, the petition, and the certificates of publication, the chief judge of the circuit court shall request the Supreme Court to appoint pursuant to Chapter 30 (§ 15.2-3000 et seq.) of this title the special court which shall determine whether the proposed consolidation is eligible for city status.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.3; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3523. Parties.

In any proceedings instituted under the provisions of this article for the creation of a consolidated city, any voter, person having an interest or property owner of any locality which is a party to the consolidation agreement may by petition become party to the proceedings. Any locality having a common boundary, or other person affected by the proceedings may appear and shall be made party to the case.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.4; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3524. Time limit for intervenors.

The court shall by order fix a time within which a voter, property owner, other person or political subdivision not served may become a party to proceedings instituted under this article for the creation of a consolidated city and thereafter no such petition shall be received, except for good cause shown. A copy of the order shall be published at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in the localities proposing to consolidate and in the counties and cities contiguous thereto.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.5; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3525. Pretrial conference; matters considered.

The special court shall, prior to hearing any case under this article for the establishment of a consolidated city, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before it, or, in its discretion, before a single judge for a conference to consider:

1. Simplification of the issues;

2. Amendment of pleadings and filing of additional pleadings;

3. Stipulations as to facts, documents, records, photographs, plans and like matters, which will dispense with formal proof thereof, including:

a. The assessed values and the ratio of assessed values to true values as determined by the State Department of Taxation in the counties, cities and towns proposing to consolidate, including real property, personal property, machinery and tools, merchants' capital and public service corporation assessments for each year of the five years immediately preceding;

b. The school population and school enrollment in the area proposing to consolidate, as shown by the records in the office of the division superintendent of schools; and the cost of education per pupil in average daily membership as shown by the last preceding report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; and

c. The population and the density of population of the area proposing to consolidate;

4. The method of taking any population census requested by the petitioner;

5. Limitation on the number of expert witnesses, as well as requiring each expert witness who will testify to file a statement of his qualifications;

6. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

The court, or the judge as the case may be, shall make an appropriate order which will control the subsequent conduct of the case unless modified before or at the trial or hearing to prevent manifest injustice.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.7; 1997, c. 587; 2010, cc. 386, 629.

§ 15.2-3526. Hearing and decision by court.

A. The court shall order an election to be held as provided in § 15.2-3538 if, after hearing the evidence, it finds that:

1. The proposed consolidation has a minimum population of 20,000 persons and a density of at least 300 persons per square mile, or a minimum population of 50,000 persons and a population density of at least 140 persons per square mile, based on the latest United States census, or on the latest population estimates of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, or on a special census conducted under court supervision; however, where the proposed consolidation includes an existing city, the population and density requirements set forth in this subdivision shall not apply;

2. The proposed consolidation has the fiscal capacity to function as an independent city and is able to provide appropriate services; and

3. After a consideration of the best interests of the parties, the interest of the Commonwealth in the compliance with and the promotion of applicable state policies with respect to environmental protection, public planning, education, public transportation, housing and other state service policies declared by the General Assembly, and the interest of the Commonwealth in promoting strong and viable units of government in the area, the proposed consolidation is eligible for city status.

B. The court shall be limited in its decision to granting or denying eligibility for city status and shall have no authority to impose terms or conditions with respect to a proposed consolidation.

C. If a majority of the court is of the opinion that the criteria set out in subsection A herein have not been met, then eligibility for city status shall be denied.

D. The court shall render a written opinion in every case brought under the provisions of this article.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.8; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3527. Assistance of state agencies.

The court may, in its discretion, direct any appropriate state agency, in addition to the Commission on Local Government, to gather and present evidence, including statistical data and exhibits, for the court, to be subject to the usual rules of evidence. The court shall determine the actual expense of preparing such evidence, and shall tax such expense as costs in the case; the costs shall be paid by the clerk into the general fund of the state treasury and credited to the agency furnishing the evidence.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3528. Appeals.

Appeals may be granted by the Supreme Court of Virginia as provided in §§ 15.2-3221 and 15.2-3222, which shall apply mutatis mutandis.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1130.10; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3529. Consolidation agreement generally; advisory committee; filing agreement and referendum petition with court.

The board of supervisors or council of the locality desiring to consolidate into a county or city, or any county and all incorporated towns located entirely therein desiring to consolidate into a county or city may enter into a joint agreement for such consolidation, setting forth in such consolidation agreement the following:

1. The names of the localities proposing to consolidate;

2. The name of the county or counties or city into which the localities propose to consolidate; or that the localities agree to conduct a subsequent referendum to be voted on by the people of the consolidated county or city prior to the effective date of the consolidation to select the name for the consolidated county or city. The name chosen shall not be one that has been restricted or prohibited by law;

3. The property, real or personal, belonging to each locality, and the fair value thereof in current money of the United States;

4. The indebtedness, bonded and otherwise, of each locality;

5. The day upon which the consolidation agreement shall become effective, provided that, if an agreement proposes the creation of a consolidated city, the effective date shall be stated in the charter enacted by the General Assembly; and

6. Any other provisions which may be properly embodied in the agreement.

Each governing body may appoint an advisory committee composed of three persons to assist it in the preparation of an agreement, and may pay the members of the advisory committee reasonable compensation, which shall be approved by the circuit court for the locality.

The original of the consolidation agreement, together with a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies, signed by the chairman and the mayor and the clerk of each of the bodies, asking that a referendum on the question of consolidation of the localities, shall be filed with a judge of a circuit court having jurisdiction over any of the localities proposing to consolidate; however, when the consolidation agreement proposes the creation of a consolidated city that includes at least one county, the petition shall ask for proceedings pursuant to §§ 15.2-3521 through 15.2-3528 prior to such referendum. A copy of the agreement shall be filed with the judge of each circuit court having jurisdiction in the localities that are parties to the agreement.

Code 1950, § 15-221; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1131; 1968, c. 694; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3530. Continuation of services of Department of Transportation after consolidation.

When a county and city consolidate into a city, or a combination of counties and a city or cities consolidate into a city, or when any county and all of the incorporated towns located entirely therein are consolidated into a city or cities, the Commissioner of Highways shall continue the full services of the Department of Transportation in those areas which were formerly a county or counties in the same manner and to the same extent such services were rendered prior to such consolidation. Funds for the maintenance, construction and reconstruction of streets within the areas formerly a county or counties shall continue to be allocated as if such areas were still in the county or counties, and such city or cities shall not receive funds for maintenance, construction or reconstruction of streets in those areas. In those areas where the Department of Transportation provides the above services, the governing body of such city or cities, as the case may be, shall have control over the streets and highways to the same extent as was formerly vested in the governing body of the county or counties.

Notwithstanding the above, at any time subsequent to the consolidation, when in the opinion of the Commissioner, the consolidated area which was formerly a county or counties or any portion thereof becomes substantially urbanized, the Commissioner may by agreement with the governing body of the city, transfer the streets in any area deemed urbanized to the city for construction, reconstruction and maintenance, and thereafter funds for such streets shall be allocated as otherwise provided by law for city streets.

1968, c. 694, § 15.1-1131.1; 1970, cc. 180, 223; 1979, c. 85; 1991, c. 189; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3531. Voters' petition requesting consolidation agreement and referendum.

The voters of any locality whose governing body has not taken the initiative under § 15.2-3529, may require it to do so by filing a petition with the governing body. The petition shall be signed by not less than fifteen percent of the voters of the locality registered to vote as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed, which number in no case shall be less than 100, and shall ask the governing body in accordance with § 15.2-3529 to effect a consolidation agreement with the localities named in the petition and to petition the judge for a referendum on the question. All of the signatures on the petition must have been made within twelve months. A copy of the petition of the voters shall also be filed with the judge of each circuit court having jurisdiction in the county or town or the judge of the circuit court in the city. If the governing body within one year is unable, or for any reason fails, to perfect such consolidation agreement, then the judge of the circuit court having jurisdiction in the county or town or the judge of the circuit court of the city shall appoint a committee of five representative citizens of the locality to act for and in lieu of the governing body in perfecting the consolidation agreement and in petitioning for a referendum.

When a consolidation agreement adopted under the provisions of this section proposes the creation of a consolidated city which will include at least one existing county, the petition shall ask for proceedings pursuant to §§ 15.2-3521 through 15.2-3528 prior to such referendum.

Code 1950, § 15-222; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1132; 1968, c. 634; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1981, c. 78; 1988, c. 728; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3532. Required provisions of consolidation agreement.

In addition to the provisions required by § 15.2-3529, any consolidation agreement adopted pursuant to this article shall contain the following provisions:

1. The disposition of all property, real or personal, of any locality affected by the proposed consolidation, including any and all debts due to any such locality;

2. Reimbursement for, or assumption of, a just proportion of any existing debt of any locality proposed to be consolidated by the consolidated county or city;

3. Towns located within any county which proposes to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated city, and not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as townships within the proposed consolidated city;

4. Towns located within any county which proposes to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated county, and not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as towns within the proposed consolidated county.

Code 1950, § 15-222.1; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1133; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3533. Transfer of property and indebtedness.

If the proposed consolidation is approved by a majority vote of the voters of each locality proposed to be consolidated, voting in the election hereinafter provided for, then the title to all property shall be vested in, and the indebtedness become a debt of, the respective localities according to the agreement, without any further act or deed.

Code 1950, § 15-222.2; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1134; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3534. Optional provisions of consolidation agreement.

Any such consolidation agreement may contain any of the following provisions:

1. In any territory that will be a part of the consolidated city there shall be no increase in assessments, except for permanent improvements made after the consolidation, for a period not exceeding five years.

2. The rate of tax on real property in any such territory shall be lower than in other territory of the consolidated unit for a period of five years, provided that any difference between such rates of taxation shall bear a reasonable relationship to differences in nonrevenue-producing governmental services giving land urban character which are furnished in such territories.

3. In any area specified in such agreement, for the purpose of repaying existing indebtedness chargeable to such area prior to consolidation, there may be levied a special tax on real property for a period not exceeding twenty years, which may be different from and in addition to the general tax rate throughout the entire consolidated county or counties, city or cities, or tier-city, as the case may be.

4. Geographical subdivisions of the consolidated city, to be known as boroughs, may be established, which may be the same as the existing (i) cities, (ii) counties, or (iii) portions of such counties, which are included in the consolidated city, and may be the same as the temporary special debt districts referred to in subdivision 3 of this section; the names of such boroughs shall be set forth in the consolidation agreement.

5. Geographical subdivisions of the consolidated county or counties, to be known as shires, may be established, which shall be the same as and bear the names of the existing counties, towns, communities, or portions of counties, which are included in the consolidated county or counties, and may be the same as the temporary special debt districts referred to in subdivision 3 of this section.

6. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single county, there may be established geographical subdivisions of such county, to be known as shires, which shall be the same as and bear the names of the existing cities and counties.

7. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single county incorporating a tier-city therein, there shall be established geographical and political subdivisions of such county, to be known as "tier-cities"; such tier-cities shall apply for and may receive a charter from the General Assembly in the same manner as may any municipality and when issued shall thereafter qualify in general law, mutatis mutandis, as a town with respect to its rights, powers and obligations, and shall have such other rights, powers and obligations as may be given it by law, general or special.

8. In the event of the establishment of such shires or boroughs, it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Highways and the Director of the Department of Historic Resources to have suitable monuments or markers erected indicating the limits of such geographical subdivisions and setting forth the history of each.

9. a. In the event of establishment of a consolidated city, there shall be a new election of officers therefor whose election and qualification shall terminate the terms of office of their predecessors; provision may be made for the exclusion from such new election of such elective officers as is deemed desirable.

b. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the constitutional officers of the consolidating jurisdictions may continue in office at not less than their salaries in effect at the effective date of consolidation; the selection of each constitutional officer for the consolidated city shall be made by agreement between those persons holding such respective offices, and the other or others, as the case may be, shall become assistants or chief deputies, upon filing of a certification of such agreement in a circuit court and approval by the court; in the event no agreement is reached or no certification is filed on or before a date stated in the consolidation agreement, the circuit court shall designate one officer as principal and the other or others, as the case may be, as assistants or chief deputies; and in the event of a vacancy in the office of assistant or chief deputy thereby created during such term, the position shall be abolished. Each such officer shall continue in office, whether as the principal officer or as chief deputy or assistant, until January 1 following the next regularly scheduled election pursuant to § 24.2-217, whether or not the term to which such officer was elected may have expired prior to that date. When the effective date of the consolidation plan is the same as the end of the term of one or more existing constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions, an election shall be held to elect such constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions for a new term to begin on the effective date of consolidation. Such newly elected officers may or may not become the principal constitutional officers of the consolidated city under this provision.

c. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the persons holding office as the superintendents of the school divisions within the consolidating jurisdictions may continue in office at no less than their salaries in effect at the effective date of consolidation, for the terms to which they were appointed; the consolidated city school board shall designate one of such persons as division superintendent and the other as associate superintendent; in the event no designation is made on or before a date stated in the consolidation agreement, the designation shall be made by the circuit court for the consolidated city; and in the event of a vacancy in the position of superintendent or associate superintendent during the term to which appointed, the remaining incumbent shall be the superintendent and the position of associate superintendent shall be abolished.

10. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the tax rate on all property of the same class within the city shall be uniform. However, the council shall have power to levy a higher tax in such areas of the city which desire additional or more complete services of government than are desired in the city as a whole, and, in such case, the proceeds therefrom shall be so segregated as to enable the same to be expended in the areas in which raised; such higher tax rate shall not be levied for school, police or general government services but only for those services which prior to consolidation were not offered in the whole of all of the consolidated localities.

11. The agreement, when proposing the creation of a consolidated city, may incorporate in a proposed charter, subject to the subsequent approval of the General Assembly, any provisions of any charter heretofore granted by the General Assembly for any of the localities proposing to consolidate. It is the intention of this subsection to permit the drafting by the governing bodies, or the committees acting for and in lieu of the governing bodies under § 15.2-3531, of a charter to be adopted as a part of the consolidation agreement for the proposed consolidated city. In such charter the name of the consolidated city, if agreed upon, shall be inserted in lieu of the name of the city which may be specified in the original charters from which the provisions are taken, or if the name of the consolidated city is left to subsequent referendum, then the phrase "the consolidated city" shall be substituted. Any such charter shall be published as provided in § 15.2-3537 as a part of the consolidation agreement.

Any agreement between any localities to form a consolidated city when adopted and approved as provided herein, together with the charter, shall be the form of the consolidated city. The governing body of the consolidated city shall have the power to make amendments to the consolidation agreement not contrary to general law. No such amendments shall become effective until such amendments have been approved by the General Assembly in accordance with the procedures established by Chapter 2 (§ 15.2-200 et seq.).

12. Any agreement between any localities to form a consolidated county may likewise incorporate provisions of any charter of any such localities proposing to consolidate and also may include the provisions of any of the optional forms of county government set forth in this title. In any form of government approved by the voters hereunder, irrespective of any other provisions of law, the initial membership of the governing body shall be as set forth in such consolidation agreement. Such agreement when adopted and approved as provided herein shall be the form of the consolidated county, and the provisions of the first paragraph of subdivision 11 above shall be applicable, mutatis mutandis. The governing body of the consolidated county shall have the power to make amendments to the consolidation agreement not contrary to general law. No such amendments, excluding membership of the governing body, shall become effective until such amendments have been approved by the General Assembly in accordance with the procedures established by Chapter 2 (§ 15.2-200 et seq.).

13. In any consolidation by a county and all the towns therein into a consolidated county, or in any consolidation of a county and a city into a consolidated county, the area of any of such town or towns, city or cities may be designated as a special service district, and the delivery of water, sewer and similar type services may be continued. The consolidated county shall have the same powers, rights and duties with respect to the public rights-of-way, streets and alleys within such district and receive State Highway Fund allocations as did such town or towns, city or cities prior to consolidation. The roads in the area formerly located solely within the county shall continue to be maintained as they were prior to the consolidation, and this subdivision shall not be construed to authorize any allocation from highway funds not previously authorized. The boundaries of such special service district or districts may be altered from time to time by ordinance of the governing body duly adopted after public hearing.

14. Any consolidation agreement may provide for offering to the voters the option of adopting a city or county form of government as well as the option between forms of county governments.

15. The agreement between a county and the incorporated towns located entirely therein consolidated pursuant to this article may contain provisions for the establishment of special service tax districts wherein a tax may be levied on all classes of property within those shires, where, upon the effective date of the consolidation agreement, there exists, or the consolidation agreement provides for, additional or more complete governmental services than the level of services which are being provided or will, under the agreement, be provided in other shires, or in the consolidated county as a whole. Additional or more complete governmental services include, but are not limited to, water supply, sewerage, garbage removal and disposal, heat, lighting, streets, sidewalks and storm drains, fire-fighting equipment and services, and additional law-enforcement services but shall not include separate police forces, additional schools or other basic governmental services to which all citizens are entitled. Any additional revenue produced from any such tax shall be segregated into a separate fund and expended by such consolidated county solely in the shire or special service tax district wherein such additional tax is assessed. The consolidation agreement shall establish the initial boundary lines of the shires and the tax rates within each shire. Future adjustments in the boundaries of the shires or special service tax districts shall be made in accordance with § 15.2-2401, which shall apply to the consolidated county as it does to the consolidated cities described therein. The governing body of the consolidated county shall have the same power as the city council referred to in such section. Such governing body also shall have the power to tax all sources of revenue which the previous county or incorporated towns therein had prior to such consolidation.

16. In the event of consolidation of a county and a city into a single county incorporating a tier-city therein, any rights provided to counties, cities and towns in Chapters 32 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.), 33 (§ 15.2-3300 et seq.), 36 (§ 15.2-3600 et seq.), 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.), and 39 (§ 15.2-3900 et seq.) may be modified or waived in whole or in part, as set forth in the consolidation agreement, provided that the modification or waiver does not conflict with the Constitution of Virginia and provided that such provision in the consolidation agreement is approved pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 34 (§ 15.2-3400 et seq.) prior to the effective date of consolidation.

17. The agreement may provide for a subsequent referendum of the voters of all or part of one or more of the consolidating localities to be held after a favorable referendum on the initial question of consolidating. This subsequent referendum shall take the sense of the voters of an area or areas of the consolidating localities, as determined in the discretion of the governing bodies of the consolidating localities, on the question of dividing that area or portion from the newly consolidated locality and consolidating that area or portion with an adjoining locality not a part of the newly consolidated locality. The terms and conditions of this division and consolidation may be included in the agreement or may be determined by the Commission on Local Government if the affected localities are unable to agree. The nonagreeing locality shall have the right to reject the recommendations of the Commission, and not accept such area or portion.

18. In the event of consolidation of counties and cities into a single city which completely surrounds another city, the agreement may provide for the subsequent unilateral consolidation of the surrounded city into the consolidated city at any time. The agreement shall provide that a referendum take the sense of the voters of the surrounded city on the question of whether the surrounded city and the surrounding consolidated city shall consolidate.

19. In the event of consolidation of such counties and cities into a single city which completely surrounds another city, the agreement may provide for the subsequent unilateral consolidation and conversion of the surrounded city to a township within the surrounding consolidated city at any time. The agreement shall provide that a referendum take the sense of the voters of the surrounded city on the question of whether such city shall convert to a township. The township may, in the discretion of its council, continue to be called a city and may formally be referred to as ____________________ city, a Virginia township. Such township shall have no right to become an independent city, nor to annex or exercise any extraterritorial jurisdiction within the consolidated city but otherwise shall have the rights, powers and immunities granted towns. The consolidated city's legal relationship with such township shall be governed by the same laws that govern county-town relationships, except as modified herein.

Code 1950, § 15-222.3; 1950, p. 1607; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1135; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 36; 1975, c. 214; 1979, c. 85; 1983, c. 4; 1984, c. 695; 1986, c. 312; 1989, c. 656; 1990, c. 424; 1991, c. 189; 1995, c. 728; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3535. Advertising of charter.

The governing bodies, or a committee acting for and in lieu of the governing body under § 15.2-3531, may draft a charter for a consolidated city or a tier-city to be adopted as a part of the consolidation agreement. The advertising of the consolidation agreement as provided in § 15.2-3537 shall include a statement that a copy of the text of the charter is on file in the clerks' offices of the circuit courts of the consolidating localities and is open to public inspection.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1135.1; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3536. Charter for consolidated city.

If a proposed charter for a consolidated city has been approved by the General Assembly for adoption in any area in which a consolidation of localities is proposed to be effected in accordance with the provisions of this article, then in any subsequent proceedings under the provisions of this article, such charter may be used as the basis for a new consolidation agreement, or upon petition of ten percent of the registered voters of any county and city as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed subject to the provisions of this article, such proposed charter may be submitted to the voters of such counties and cities for adoption as the charter of the consolidated city and shall in all respects fulfill the requirements of the consolidation agreement provided for in this article.

Code 1950, § 15-222.4; 1950, p. 1609; 1952, c. 267; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1136; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3537. Publication of consolidation agreement.

Each locality which is a party to a consolidation agreement shall cause a copy of the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the agreement and a reference to the place in the locality where a copy of the agreement may be examined, to be published in its locality at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the locality.

Code 1950, § 15-223; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1137; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3538. Order for election.

When publication of the consolidation agreement or descriptive summary in each of the localities is completed or, in the case of a proposed consolidated new city, when the court has entered an appropriate order under the provisions of subsection A of § 15.2-3526, the respective chief judges of the circuit courts for the counties and for the cities, shall, by order entered of record in each county and city, require the regular election officers of the locality on the day fixed in the order, issued in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2, which date shall be the same in each of the localities proposing to consolidate, to open a poll and take the sense of the voters of each locality on the question submitted as hereinafter provided. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of each newspaper publishing the agreement or descriptive summary shall be proof of publication.

Code 1950, § 15-224; 1950, p. 1608; 1956, c. 554; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1138; 1975, c. 517; 1979, c. 85; 1986, c. 312; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3539. Conduct of election.

The regular election officers, at the time designated in the order authorizing the vote, shall open the polls at the various voting places in their respective localities and conduct the election in such manner as is provided by general law for other elections insofar as the same is applicable. The ballots for each county, including the towns therein, and for each city shall be prepared by the electoral boards thereof and distributed to the various election precincts thereof as provided by law. The ballots used shall be printed and shall contain the following:

"Shall ........… (here insert the names of localities proposing to consolidate) consolidate?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

In the case of a consolidation agreement offering to the voters the option of choosing between two forms of government, the ballots used shall also contain the following:

"What form of consolidated government shall be adopted?

(Vote for one only)

[ ] City charter, or

[ ] County form"

If the option is between other forms of county government, then the ballots shall be printed accordingly.

Code 1950, § 15-225; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1139; 1975, c. 214; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3540. Result of elections; determination of form of government.

The ballots shall be counted and returns made and canvassed as in other elections, and the results certified by the electoral board to each of the judges of the circuit courts having jurisdiction in the localities proposing to be consolidated. If it appears by the report that a majority of the voters of each locality voting on the question submitted are in favor of the consolidation provided that no separate vote on the question shall be required in towns within a county when such county proposes to consolidate in its entirety with a county or city having a common boundary, the judge or judges shall enter such fact of record in each such county and city and shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Upon the day prescribed in the order for the consolidation agreement to become effective, the localities shall be consolidated into a city or into a city and one or more counties or into a single county as proposed in the consolidation agreement.

If the election offers to the voters a choice between forms of government, the question shall be determined by a majority of all the voters voting in such election and reported accordingly.

Code 1950, § 15-226; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1140; 1970, c. 751; 1975, c. 214; 1978, c. 642; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3541. General effect of consolidation; officers.

Upon the effective date of consolidation, the localities so consolidated, other than the consolidated county or city or town, and other than townships as provided by § 15.2-3548, shall terminate, as shall the terms of office and the rights, powers, duties and compensation of the officers, agents and employees of each such county, city or town. When such agreement provides for consolidation of the area into a county or city, or when such agreement provides for consolidation of the area into a county in which a tier-city will exist, then the judge or judges of the court or courts having jurisdiction within the area comprised by the consolidated county or city shall order an election to be held not less than thirty nor more than 185 days after the date upon which the referendum provided for in §§ 15.2-3538, 15.2-3539 and 15.2-3540 was held, but at least thirty days before the effective date of such consolidation agreement, at which election officers for the new consolidated county or city, or for the new consolidated county and tier-city shall be elected.

The officers so elected shall take office upon the effective date of consolidation and shall serve until their successors have been elected, qualified and taken office. Their successors shall be elected at the next regular election time for such officers as provided for by general law.

No election required by this section or by § 15.2-3538 shall be held on the day of a primary election nor within the sixty days prior to a general or primary election. Should the final day by which either such election must be held fall within the sixty days prior to a general election, the required election must be held on the same day as the general election. Should such final day fall within the sixty days prior to a primary election, the required election must be held not less than thirty nor more than forty-five days after the primary election.

Code 1950, § 15-227; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1141; 1979, c. 85; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3542. Governing body to be elected and take office before effective date of consolidation in certain cases; powers.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15.2-3541 or any other statutory provision, in any consolidation which results in the formation of a consolidated county with a tier-city therein, the consolidation agreement may provide as follows:

1. The special election provided in § 15.2-3541 may apply solely to election of members of boards of supervisors and members of tier-city councils, with all other elected officers being elected at the general election next preceding the effective date of consolidation.

2. Members of the governing bodies elected at such special elections may assume office immediately upon qualification, and no later than thirty days following the date upon which the special election was held, as provided in § 24.2-201, and shall hold office prior to the effective date of consolidation, only for such of the following limited purposes as may be provided by the consolidation agreement:

a. Organization of itself and election of one of its members as chairman of the board of supervisors or as mayor, as the case may be.

b. Preparation and approval of budgets applicable to the respective newly formed governmental entities, for the fiscal year or partial fiscal year beginning with the effective date of consolidation.

c. Adoption of ordinances required or permitted by the consolidation agreement, to be effective upon the date of consolidation.

d. Hiring by the newly elected tier-city council of a tier-city manager, tier-city attorney and clerk of council.

e. Hiring by the newly elected board of supervisors of its chief administrative officer, county attorney, and clerk of board.

f. Negotiation, preparation and approval of leases, servicing agreements, and other documents required by the consolidation agreement, or otherwise deemed advisable.

B. Prior to the effective date of consolidation, provision shall be made for funding the activities described in subdivision 2 of subsection A.

C. Upon the effective date of consolidation, all elected officers who have taken the oath of office shall assume full powers, duties, rights and responsibilities of their respective offices.

D. Any member of a governing body of a consolidating locality may be elected to public office, for which he or she is otherwise qualified, in a governing body of a new governmental entity formed by consolidation. For the limited time period and limited purposes specified in subdivision 2 of subsection A, such officers may hold both offices at the same time.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1141.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3543. Electoral board, general registrar and officers of election.

A. If any county and all incorporated towns located therein consolidate into a county or city, the members of the electoral board, general registrar and officers of election of the consolidating county or city shall continue to serve as like officers of the consolidated county or city until the expiration of the terms to which they were appointed.

B. If one or more counties or cities consolidate into a single county or city, the provisions set forth in this subsection shall apply as follows:

1. Electoral Board. -- The terms of the electoral board members of the consolidating localities shall expire on the effective date of consolidation. The judges of the circuit courts of the consolidating localities, no later than thirty days prior to the effective date of consolidation, shall appoint pursuant to § 24.2-106 for the consolidated county or city an electoral board of three members who shall qualify and take office on the day following the effective date of consolidation. The term of the first member so appointed shall expire at midnight on the last day of February in the year following the year in which he takes office; the term of the second member appointed shall expire one year later; and the term of the third member shall expire two years later. At a meeting to be held on the day its members take office, the electoral board for the consolidated county or city shall (i) designate one of the general registrars of the consolidating jurisdictions to serve as the general registrar of the consolidated county or city until midnight on March 31 following the effective date of consolidation and (ii) appoint pursuant to §§ 24.2-109 and 24.2-115 the officers of election for the consolidated county or city. At a meeting to be held in the first week of March following the effective date of consolidation, such electoral board shall appoint pursuant to §§ 24.2-109 and 24.2-110 a general registrar for the consolidated county or city who shall qualify and take office on April 1 following the effective date of consolidation and serve for the remainder of the term set forth in § 24.2-110.

2. General Registrar. -- The general registrars of the consolidating jurisdictions shall continue in office, with one of them designated the general registrar for the consolidated county or city as hereinabove provided, until midnight on March 31 following the effective date of consolidation during which time they shall compile, on the schedule and in the manner prescribed by the State Board of Elections, the registration records for the consolidated county or city. The governing body of the consolidated county or city shall pay the salary of each such general registrar in the amount authorized by the State Board of Elections and shall be reimbursed for such compensation from the state treasury.

3. Officers of Election. -- The terms of the officers of election of the consolidating jurisdictions shall expire on the effective date of consolidation.

1986, c. 312, § 15.1-1141.2; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3544. Effect on pending suits.

Any action or proceeding pending by or against any of the consolidated localities may be perfected to judgment as if such consolidation had not taken place, or the consolidated locality, if any, may be substituted.

Code 1950, § 15-228; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1142; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3545. Effect on assembly districts.

For the purpose of representation of the consolidated localities in the General Assembly, the existing senatorial and house districts shall continue until changed in accordance with law.

Code 1950, § 15-229; 1958, c. 332; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1143; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3546. Effect on jurisdiction of courts.

Unless and until changed by general law, the jurisdiction and authority of the circuit courts having jurisdiction within any area covered by the consolidation agreement shall remain as provided for in general law as if no consolidation had occurred.

Code 1950, § 15-230; 1956, c. 554; 1958, c. 101; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1144; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3547. Consolidation of entire county requires no action of town council.

An entire county may be consolidated with any county or city having a common boundary in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this article without the necessity of any action concerning the consolidation being taken by the council of any town situated in such county and without the necessity of a separate referendum in any such town on the question of the consolidation.

Code 1950, § 15-231; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1145; 1979, c. 85; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3548. Effect on town charter.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any town located within or partially within a county proposing to consolidate with another county or city, or combination thereof, into a consolidated county and which is not a party to the consolidation agreement, shall continue as a town in the consolidated county.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, in the event a proposed consolidation of a county with another county or city into a consolidated city is approved by the voters as provided in § 15.2-3540, any town located within or partially within a county and not a party to the consolidation agreement shall continue as a township. The charter of such town shall become the charter of the township. Such townships established pursuant to this subsection shall continue to exercise such powers and elect such officers as the township charter may authorize and shall exercise such other powers as towns exercise under general law. However, no township shall exercise the powers granted towns by Chapter 38 (§ 15.2-3800 et seq.) or by Article 1 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32, or any extraterritorial authority granted towns by Chapter 22 (§ 15.2-2200 et seq.), except that a township created as a result of a consolidation of a city and county subsequent to July 1, 2011, may institute proceedings for annexation pursuant to Article 1 (§ 15.2-3200 et seq.) of Chapter 32 if the consolidation agreement permits a township to exercise such authority. The consolidated city shall exercise such powers in the township as were exercised by the county in the town prior to consolidation. Townships shall receive from the Commonwealth financial assistance in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided towns. A township may transfer all or part of the revenues it receives, the services it performs, its facilities, other assets, and debts to the consolidated city by agreement of the governing bodies.

1979, c. 85, § 15.1-1146.1; 1997, c. 587; 2011, cc. 337, 349.

§ 15.2-3549. Powers of a tier-city.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article, any city located entirely within the boundary of any county proposing to consolidate with such county, and which becomes a tier-city shall have, mutatis mutandis, all the powers, duties and responsibilities of a town together with such additional powers as may be granted it by law, general or special. The appropriate provisions of the charter for such city may be made a part of the consolidation agreement and in that event shall become the charter of such tier-city, subject to the subsequent approval of the General Assembly. Such tier-city established pursuant to this section shall continue to exercise such powers and elect such officers as the tier-city charter may authorize and such other powers as tier-cities or towns exercise under general law. Except for those powers reserved to the tier-city in the consolidation agreement, the consolidated county shall exercise such powers in the tier-city as are exercised by counties in towns. Tier-cities shall receive from the Commonwealth financial assistance in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided towns. A tier-city may transfer all or part of the revenues it receives, the services it performs, its facilities, or other assets to the county by agreement of the governing bodies. The governing bodies may provide by agreement for the assumption of all or part of the tier-city's debt by the consolidated county. The tier-city boundaries within the county may be established initially as agreed to and provided for in the consolidation agreement.

1984, c. 695, § 15.1-1146.1:1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3550. Effect of consolidation into single county; exceptions for tier-city.

If the consolidation agreement provides for the consolidation of counties, cities and towns or any of them into a single county, and such agreement is approved by a majority of the voters voting in the election provided for in this article, then the existence of such localities as governmental entities of the Commonwealth shall cease, except as to towns continued under the provisions of § 15.2-3548. The governmental powers and functions of the consolidated governmental entities shall be transferred to the county therein provided for, except as herein otherwise set forth. The streets of the former cities and towns shall become and remain a part of the primary state highway system unless otherwise provided in the consolidation agreement. All property, real and personal, of each such county, city or town shall be transferred to and vested in such consolidated county, except as may be otherwise provided for in the consolidation agreement providing for the establishment of a tier-city. All suits or actions or causes of action pending by or against any such county, city or town shall continue to exist and may be brought or continued by or against such consolidated county, except as may be otherwise provided for in the consolidation agreement providing for the establishment of a tier-city.

Code 1950, § 15-231.2; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1147; 1975, c. 214; 1979, c. 85; 1984, c. 695; 1997, c. 587.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

The Virginia General Assembly is offering access to the Code of Virginia on the Internet as a service to the public. We are unable to assist users of this service with legal questions nor respond to requests for legal advice or the application of the law to specific facts. Therefore, to understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.

The Code of Virginia online database excludes material copyrighted by the publisher, Michie, a division of Matthew Bender. Copyrighted material includes annotations and revisors' notes, which may be found in the print version of the Code of Virginia. Annotated print copies of the Code of Virginia are available in most Virginia public library systems, from LexisNexis (1-800-446-3410), and from West, a Thomson-Reuters business (1-800-344-5008).