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Reversion appears to be coming soon

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    “The study is underway.”

    That’s how a story in the Bulletin started some three -and-a-half years ago, noting that Bedford and Bedford County were well underway with talks about the city reverting to town status.
    Now, apparently, an agreement may be near. At least that’s word on the street.
    The public has been given little additional information in the 42 months since a possible reversion plan was first announced.
    But now there are hints that the public may soon learn some of the facts.
    It’s about time.
    The County Board of Supervisors recently took its entire regular meeting time to talk about reversion. All, of course, behind closed doors.
    Bedford City Council also held an impromptu meeting last Tuesday, following its regular meeting agenda, to apparently talk reversion—this, of course, also took place behind closed doors.
    On Thursday, the Bedford County School Board discussed setting up a meeting—following a request from Supervisors Chairman Annie Pollard—with representatives from the county supervisors to talk reversion issues, specifically about the possible construction of a new middle school in the Liberty zone.
    Though budget discussions earlier this year, and the proposed closing of Bedford Primary School, apparently put some strain on reversion discussions, that tension appears to be set aside. Now it’s time to get down to business.
    And it’s time to get some of the particulars out to the public. The citizens who will be affected by reversion need to know just what it really means.
    More than 40 years ago the town employed a consultant that led town council to believe that, as an independent city, Bedford would get a tremendous sum of money based on the way state sales tax money was divvied up for education. Meetings were held at town hall and many of those who attended urged the town council not to make the transition.
    It was done anyway and Bedford’s transition from a town to a second class city in 1968 was not popular —in fact Bedford voters voiced their displeasure at the polls during the next election. Every council member who voted for transition and had an opponent, went down to defeat.
    The terms of any reversion agreement will include fiscal arrangements, land use arrangements, zoning, infrastructure, revenue and economic growth sharing and any other proffered conditions. Both city and county residents need to know what those arrangements and conditions will be.
    And they need time to comment on them, before any final agreement is reached.
    And the governing bodies need to make sure they’re willing to listen.
    There’s plenty to consider:
    • What services will the town continue to provide;
    • What impact will reversion have on taxes, rates and other fees;
    • How will reversion affect zoning issues; and
    • What impact will reversion have on the school system.
    Just to name a few.
    Back when the reversion process was first announced, one city official put the process like this:  “There are far-reaching consequences and you really want to make sure it’s done properly.”
    Very true. And an important part of that process will be giving the public time to comment and officials being willing to listen—and act accordingly.