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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 35. Consolidation of Localities
9/18/2021

§ 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.

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