Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 35. Consolidation of Localities
5/20/2022

Article 1. Consolidation of Like Units of Local Government.

§ 15.2-3500. Application of article.

The provisions of this article shall be applicable only to the consolidation of like units of local government into a consolidated like unit of local government. As used in this article "like unit" means the consolidation of (i) two or more counties into a consolidated county, (ii) two or more cities into a consolidated city or (iii) two or more towns into a consolidated town.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3501. Authority to consolidate counties, cities or towns.

Any two or more adjoining like units of local government are hereby authorized to consolidate into a single consolidated like unit of local government.

Code 1950, § 15-162; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1071; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3502. Agreement for consolidation.

The governing bodies of any two or more adjoining localities desiring to consolidate into a consolidated locality in accordance with this article may enter into an agreement for the consolidation, setting forth in such consolidation agreement:

1. The names of the localities which are proposed to be consolidated;

2. The name of the proposed consolidated locality, which name shall be such as to distinguish it from the name of any other like unit of government in Virginia;

3. The property, real and 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 proposed name and location of the county seat of the consolidated county or the address of the administrative offices of the city or town;

6. If the counties have different forms of county organization and government, the proposed form of county organization and government of the consolidated county, or if the cities or towns are to adopt the charter of one of the cities or towns, the name of the city or town whose charter is adopted; and

7. The other terms of the agreement.

The governing body of each of the localities may appoint an advisory committee composed of three persons to assist in the preparation of such agreement and may pay the members of such advisory committee reasonable compensation, approved by the judge of the circuit court for the locality.

In counties, no consolidation agreement shall become effective unless approved by a referendum. In cities and towns, the consolidation agreement may include a provision requiring approval by referendum.

The original of the consolidation agreement and, if appropriate, a petition on behalf of the several governing bodies asking for a referendum on the question of consolidation shall be filed with the judge or one of the judges of the circuit courts for the localities; there shall be filed with each of the other judges a copy of the consolidation agreement and of the petition.

Code 1950, § 15-163; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1072; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3503. Petition requesting agreement.

The voters of any locality whose governing body has not taken the initiative under § 15.2-3502 may require the governing body to do so by filing a petition with the governing body. The petition shall be signed by not less than ten percent of the voters of the locality registered as of January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed, which in no case shall be less than 100 voters, and shall ask the governing body to effect, in accordance with § 15.2-3502, a consolidation agreement with the locality named in the petition and to petition the judge for a referendum on the question. A copy of the petition of the voters shall also be filed with the judge of the circuit court for the locality. If the governing body within six months is unable or for any reason fails to perfect such consolidation agreement, then the judge of the circuit court for the locality 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.

Code 1950, § 15-164; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1073; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3504. Publication of agreement.

The governing body of each of the consolidating localities shall cause a copy of the consolidation agreement, or a descriptive summary of the agreement and a reference to the place within the locality where a copy of the agreement may be examined, to be published in each locality with which it is proposed to consolidate at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation therein. A copy of the agreement shall be available for public inspection at the circuit court clerk's office of each of the consolidating localities.

Code 1950, § 15-165; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1074; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3505. Order for election.

When the publication of the consolidation agreement in each of the localities is completed, the judge or judges of the circuit courts for the counties and, if appropriate, for the cities or towns shall by order entered of record, in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2, require the regular election officers of such localities on the day fixed in the order, which day shall be the same in each of the localities proposing to consolidate, to open a poll and take the sense of the qualified voters therein on the question submitted as hereinafter provided. Certification from the owner, editor or manager of each newspaper publishing the agreement shall be proof of publication.

Code 1950, § 15-166; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1075; 1975, c. 517; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3506. Conduct of election.

The election authorized by § 15.2-3505 shall be conducted in accordance with general law. The ballots used shall be printed and shall contain the following:

"Shall ____________________ (here insert names of counties, cities or towns proposing
to consolidate) consolidate pursuant to the consolidation agreement?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No."

Code 1950, § 15-167; 1950, p. 395; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1076; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3507. Result of election.

The ballots shall be counted, returns made and canvassed as in other elections and the results certified by the electoral boards to the judge or judges of the circuit courts for the localities. If it appears by the report of the electoral boards that a majority of the voters of each locality proposing to consolidate voting on the question submitted are in favor of the consolidation, the judge or judges shall enter of record such fact and shall notify the Secretary of the Commonwealth of such fact.

Code 1950, § 15-168; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1077; 1970, c. 751; 1978, c. 642; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3508. Election or appointment of county officers.

At the next regular November election held at least sixty days after the election at which the consolidation is approved by the voters, all county officers provided for by general law shall be elected for the consolidated county. Their terms shall begin on January 1 next succeeding their election, at which time they shall replace all elective county officers of the consolidated counties whose terms shall terminate on such day. The terms of the new officers shall expire on January 1 next succeeding the regular election of county officers in the Commonwealth.

All appointive county officers shall be appointed by the person, board or authority upon whom the power to appoint such officers in other counties is conferred. The terms of such officers shall commence on January 1 next succeeding the first election of officers for the consolidated county and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been appointed and qualified.

The successors of all such officers whose first election or appointment is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected or appointed at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general law.

Code 1950, § 15-169; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1078; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3509. Election or appointment of city or town officers.

At the next regular May election held at least sixty days after the adoption of the consolidation ordinance by the governing bodies or, if applicable, the election at which the consolidation is approved by the voters, such officers as are provided for by general or special law shall be elected for the consolidated city or town. Their terms shall begin on July 1 next succeeding their election, at which time they shall replace all elective city or town officers of the consolidated cities or towns whose terms shall terminate on such day. The terms of the new officers shall expire on January 1 for constitutional officers next succeeding the regular election of city constitutional officers in the Commonwealth and July 1 next succeeding the regular election of all other city and town officers.

All appointive city and town officers shall be appointed by the person, board or authority upon whom the power to appoint such officers in other cities and towns is conferred. The terms of such officers shall commence on January 1 next succeeding the first election of officers for the consolidated city or town and shall continue, unless otherwise removed, until their successors have been appointed and qualified.

The successors of all such officers whose first election or appointment is herein provided for shall thereafter be elected or appointed at the time, in the manner and for the terms provided by general or special law.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3510. General effect of consolidation.

Upon the first day of office following the first election of county, city or town officers for the consolidated localities, the several localities shall be thereafter for all purposes treated and considered as one county, city or town, as the case may be, under the name and upon the terms and conditions set forth in the consolidation agreement and in accordance with the provisions of this article. All the rights, privileges and franchises of each of the several localities and all property, real and personal, and all debts due on whatever account, as well as other things in action, belonging to each of such localities shall be deemed as transferred to and vested in the consolidated locality without further act or deed. All property, all rights-of-way and all other interests shall be as effectually the property of the consolidated locality as they were of the several localities prior to their consolidation. The title to real estate, either by deed or otherwise, under the laws of this Commonwealth vested in any of the localities shall not be deemed to revert or be in any way impaired by reason of the consolidation. The rights of creditors and all liens upon the property of any of the localities shall be preserved unimpaired; the respective localities shall be deemed to continue in existence to preserve such rights and liens, and all debts, liabilities and duties of any of the localities shall thenceforth attach to the consolidated locality and be enforced against it to the same extent as if such debts, liabilities and duties had been incurred or contracted by it.

Such consolidated locality shall in all respects, except as otherwise provided herein, be subject to all the obligations and liabilities imposed and shall possess all the rights, powers, and privileges vested by law in other localities.

Code 1950, § 15-170; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1079; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3511. Liabilities.

All valid and lawful charges and liabilities existing against a consolidated locality, or which may thereafter arise or accrue against such locality, which, but for such consolidation would be valid, and lawful charges or liabilities against them, or either of them, shall be deemed and taken to be like charges against or liabilities of the consolidated locality and shall accordingly be defrayed and answered to by it to the same extent, and no further than, the several localities would have been bound if no consolidation had taken place. All bonds, contracts and obligations of the localities which exist as legal obligations shall be deemed like obligations of the consolidated locality, and all such obligations as are authorized or required to be issued or entered into shall be issued or entered into by and in the name of such consolidated jurisdictions.

Code 1950, § 15-213; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1123; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3512. Suits and prosecutions.

From and after the date when consolidation becomes effective, all indictments and prosecutions for crimes committed or ordinances violated and all suits or causes of action arising within the territory of the consolidated locality may be instituted in the county, city or town with the same force and effect as if consolidation had always been effective.

Suits may be brought and maintained against a consolidated locality in any of the courts of this Commonwealth in the same manner as against any other locality.

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

Code 1950, §§ 15-171, 15-216; 1962, c. 623, §§ 15.1-1080, 15.1-1126; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3513. Magisterial, school and election districts, etc.

The magisterial districts in a county, and the school districts, election districts and voting places in the consolidated county, city or town shall continue as in the several counties, cities or towns prior to consolidation, unless and until changed in accordance with law.

Code 1950, § 15-172; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1081; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3514. Courts and judicial circuits.

Until changed by law, the same judicial circuits shall continue, though this may result in the consolidated county or city being a part of two or more circuits. All such courts shall, however, be held at the place designated as the seat of the consolidated county or administrative offices of the city, and each such court shall continue to have and exercise the same jurisdiction as it had and exercised before such consolidation. If two or more judges have jurisdiction in any consolidated county or city, they or a majority of them shall exercise the power to appoint officers and fill vacancies as is vested in judges of circuit courts of other counties and cities.

Code 1950, § 15-173; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1082; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3515. Congressional and assembly districts.

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

Code 1950, § 15-174; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1083; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3516. Registration of voters.

No new registration shall be necessary in case of consolidation, but all voter registrations of the localities shall be transferred to the proper registration books of the consolidated locality, and new registrations shall be made as provided by law just as if no consolidation had taken place.

Code 1950, § 15-187; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1096; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3517. Existing ordinances.

The ordinances in force in the localities at the time of consolidation, insofar as they are not in conflict with the consolidation agreement, shall be continued in force and effect within the limits of the consolidated localities, subject to repeal or amendment by the governing bodies of the consolidated localities; however, in case of a conflict between the ordinances of localities when the charter of one of them has been retained, the ordinances of the one whose charter has been surrendered shall to the extent of such conflict be void and of no effect. Localities may also provide in the consolidation agreement for an alternative procedure for resolving conflicts between ordinances.

Code 1950, § 15-188; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1097; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3518. Determination of rights.

If any right, title, interest, claim or case arises out of any consolidation or by reason thereof which is not determinable by reference to the provisions of this article or by the Constitution and other laws of the Commonwealth, the governing body of the consolidated locality may by ordinance provide therefor in a manner conforming to law.

Code 1950, § 15-189; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-1098; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-3519. Repeal of certain charters.

At the session of the General Assembly that follows the elections provided for in either § 15.2-3508 or § 15.2-3509, the governing body of the resulting consolidated county, city or town shall request its delegate or senator in the General Assembly to introduce a bill to repeal all obsolete charters of the local governments that have been consolidated.

1997, c. 587.