CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Six more West Virginia municipalities have been granted home rule authority.
At its meeting this week in Charleston, the Municipal Home Rule Board reviewed and approved applications for Beckley, Grafton, Princeton and St. Albans as submitted, while applications from Moundsville and Oak Hill were approved with amendments. In addition, the board approved amendments to plans previously approved by Morgantown and Weirton.
The six join the 20 cities that have already been granted home-rule status. Applications for all cities are available at http://www.wvcommerce.org/people/wvhomerule/city-applications.aspx
Most questions by the board on Monday centered on the sections of applications seeking to change business & occupation taxes or sales taxes. Representatives of the cities applying to the program noted that their proposals were modeled after proposals approved for the previous 20 cities. However, board members noted that the exact details of the general plans often differed.
The city of Moundsville was one of many requesting permission to determine its own B&O tax rates, classifications and exemptions. Along with a proposed reduction in the B&O tax, Moundsville also requested permission to impose a retail sales tax. The general plan was approved with the board seeking adjustments to the plan.
Oak Hill had sought to redefine the requirements for developing a comprehensive plan for the city. That proposal met with opposition and was withdrawn from the application.
Among the requests from the six cities were the following: the ability to apply delinquent fees for services; to seek remedies for dilapidated structures,; the ability to issue “on-the-spot” citations for external sanitation violations and common nuisances; and the ability to sell, dispose of, or auction city property without meeting the requirement of state code calling for “fair and adequate consideration at public auction.”
In its application, the city of Beckley proposed an ordinance allowing the city to sell real and personal property at fair market value to private purchasers without auction in such a manner that promotes economic development or provides a service for the public good. The ordinance also allows the city to sell real and personal property at less than fair market value to nonprofit purchasers without auction.
W.Va. Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss, who serves as the designee of Gov. Earl Tomblin, chaired the meeting.
Others on the board include: Kin Sayre III, attorney with Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love and the Business and Industry Council representative; Brian Jones, a member of the Professional Firefighters of W.Va. and the Labor Organization (AFL-CIO) representative; Chris Fletcher, planning director for the city of Morgantown and a representative of the W.Va. Chapter of American Institute of Certified Planners; Josh Jarrell, deputy secretary and general counsel of the Department of Commerce and the designee of the executive director of the W.Va. Development Office; State Sen. Craig Blair, chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization; Delegate Gary Howell, chair of the House of Delegates Committee on Government Organization. Both Blair and Howell are ex-officio non-voting members.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved an expansion of the pilot program, permitting the addition of 14 more municipalities, with the requirement that four of the new approvals be given to Class IV municipalities, a designation for those with populations of less than 2,000. No Class IV municipalities have applied for home rule status this year, and there are still four more openings for municipalities with populations of 2,000 or more. Applications for those openings are still being accepted.
The Municipal Home Rule Board will meet again Nov. 16, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the West Virginia Development Office in Building 6 at the Capitol.
The application as well as guidelines and a checklist are now available online at www.wvcommerce.org/homerule.