Home rule has potential for city

The City of Weirton is looking into the possibility of joining a program offered by the state of West Virginia which would allow the city to circumvent state law in certain situations.

Dubbed “Home rule,” the program allows any approved municipalities to be granted abilities not normally allowed under state law.

Some have used those abilities to acquire new taxing powers, while others have made it easier to cut through the beaurocratic red tape.

Currently, four cities – Wheeling, Charleston, Hungtington and Bridgeport – are taking part in the home rule program; however, it is possible the state could make room for more in the coming months.

That is what Weirton City Council is hoping for.

Home rule powers would allow the city to use abilities never before allowed. Wheeling, for example, was able to reduce the number of business licenses from 77 to three in the hope of encouraging business growth in the city.

Many residents have said Weirton may not be as business friendly as they would like, and through home rule that may change.

First, however, the Legislature must be willing to expand the program and then accept Weirton into it. The city then also must present its plan for new powers to the state for approval. So, in that sense, it is not as if Weirton City Council will be able to simply do whatever it wants if it takes part.

We encourage our city leaders to think carefully about what they would like to do if accepted into home rule. Good intentions don’t always lead to good results, after all.

At the same time, we urge our residents to watch carefully and see what is being proposed. Let your voices be heard on what you would like to see happen, and if you don’t like what is being discussed let city council know.

The home rule program could become a great benefit for the Weirton community, opening the gates for a future Weirton residents can be proud of, but it still must be used wisely.