City to pitch home rule Monday

WHEELING – A third round of presentations by municipalities hoping to participate in the Home Rule Pilot Program will be held Monday in Wheeling.

Parkersburg, Vienna, Weirton and Moundsville will present plans, beginning at 8 a.m., to the Municipal Home Rule Board at the Wheeling City Council Chambers on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.

Wheeling, Charleston, Huntington and Bridgeport are the four cities in the home rule program. The Legislature opened up the program to other municipalities, which have submitted plans for how they would use the authority under home rule and will make presentations before the Home Rule Board.

Home rule gives municipalities authority to enact sales taxes and fees and regulations for local businesses or abandoned properties.

Weirton is seeking the ability to investigate businesses which are licensed by the state to sell alcohol.

Officials also want more control over streets and highways within the city limits, more authority in code enforcement within the city and to relax certain certification requirements prior to hiring code enforcement officers.

Officials in Moundsville want to enact a 0.5-percent sales tax, as well as have more authority in collecting delinquent fees and accounts.

They also wish to consolidate and reduce the number of business license categories, and have more authority to deal with blighted properties.

In both Parkersburg and Vienna, officials have recommended a sales tax to eliminate some business and occupation taxes, and want greater authority to seize abandoned and blighted properties.

Proposals for all of the cities can be read online at /home-rule.

Last week, St. Albans’ application was rejected by the board because the city did not complete the required number of public hearings.

That leaves 22 cities vying for 16 spots in the program. Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he and city officials traveled to Charleston on Monday to watch six cities make presentations.

“We wanted to get an idea of the format, what kinds of questions would be asked,” Newell said.

Newell said officials otherwise are not prepping because all of the required information has already been submitted to the board with the city’s application.

“We’re just there to answer questions about our proposal,” he said.

Weirton Mayor George J. Kondik said his officials are ready for Monday’s presentation.

“In the last few months, we’ve prepared extensively to get to the point where we are very comfortable with our proposals,” he said.

Part of that preparation, he said, involved looking at the four home rule cities to see what they have done through the program.

“We’ve done our homework,” he said.

Morgantown, Fairmont, Shinnston, Clarksburg and Buchannon will make presentations to the Home Rule Board Aug. 25 in Bridgeport. Bath (Berkeley Springs), Martinsburg, Ranson and Charles Town will make presentations Sept. 8 in Martinsburg.

Kondik said while no date for a board decision has formally been announced, he anticipates the 16 new participating cities will be announced within 30 days of the last presentations.