Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 4, 2014

Bluefield, Princeton among W.Va., cities seeking home rule

CHARLESTON — Bluefield and Princeton are among the more than 20 West Virginia cities seeking to participate in a program that would give them a larger say in how they govern.

Monday was the deadline for cities to submit applications to the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Program. Sixteen cities will be chosen to join the program’s four existing participants.

The Home Rule Board will interview representatives from each of the 23 new applicants.

Board chairman Patsy Trescot told the Charleston Daily Mail that the board would meet June 13 by telephone to discuss where and when interviews will be conducted.

“There is no rush,” said Trescot, who also is a Clarksburg City Council member. “We are going to be very thorough . . . we want to make sure all 23 cities have an equal opportunity.”

Cities submitting applications range in population from Spencer, at around 2,300, to Parkersburg, which has a population of more than 31,000.

Other cities seeking to participate are: Bath (also known as Berkeley Springs), Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Dunbar, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Milton, Morgantown, Moundsville, Nitro, Oak Hill, Princeton, Ranson, Shinnston, South Charleston, St. Albans, Vienna and Weirton.

The Bluefield Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution in late April to apply for home rule status. Some items the city could look at if it receives home rule status include B&O tax reduction, retail sales tax implementation, on-spot citations, and procurement to architect and engineering services, according to earlier reports in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

In May, the Princeton City Council unanimously passed on second reading a resolution to apply for home rule status. Under home rule, the city could lease or sell city properties without going to bid, City Manager Elke Doom said after the resolution was passed. The city could also accept bids from all vendors; however, there would still be limits on what cities could do in relation to state law.

The program shifts power from the state to the local level. It began as a five-year pilot in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling.

In 2013, the Legislature continued the program until July 1, 2019, and allowed up to 20 municipalities to participate.

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