Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 1, 2013

Huntington mayor touts benefits of home rule to Bluefield leaders

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says he has seen amazing progress in his city since taking office nine months ago. And he attributes much of that success to Huntington’s participate in the state’s new home rule program.

Williams, a native of Mercer County who grew up in Athens, traveled to Bluefield Tuesday with a simple message for the Bluefield Board of Directors — participate in home rule.

By participating in the state’s original pilot home rule program, Williams said the city has been able to reduce its business and occupation tax and eliminate the business and occupation tax on manufacturing industries while also cutting the tax in half for the service industry. The end result has made the city more business friendly.

“Basically, we found it is easier to do business in Huntington with the changes we’ve been able to enact with home rule,” Williams said. “This is an absolute win-win for the city.”

The expanded home rule program affords cities in the Mountain State more power to identify state rules that may restrict their capability to perform municipal duties. It also provides cities greater flexibility in identifying effective solutions. The cities of Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling and Bridgeport are already participating in a five-year program. Now more communities are being allowed to join the home rule initiative. The state will be accepting applications for the program between January and June of next year.

For more on how home rule has helped Huntington, and could help Bluefield, see Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph.