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St. Albans submits Home Rule application

By By Matthew Hill
For the Gazette

St. Albans has been added to the growing number of West Virginia cities seeking to participate in the state’s Municipal Home Rule Program, Mayor Dick Callaway announced at Monday’s city council meeting.

Callaway displayed for council members a bound copy of the application and described how the city went about identifying five issues of concern and making recommendations for solutions to those problems.

“Attorney John Stump submitted the application for us in a proper manner,” the mayor explained, adding that two public hearings on the Home Rule application will be held at two future council meetings. “Hopefully, at the end of that process, we’ll pop out the other end as a city with Home Rule.”

Shinnston City Council voted May 26 to allow the city to submit an application to the Home Rule Board. The week before that, city councils in Martinsburg and Nitro approved similar ordinances.

Other cities seeking participation in the program include Bluefield, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, Buckhannon and Elkins. The program shifts power from the state to the local level and gives municipalities a larger say in how they govern.

It began as a five-year pilot program in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling. Last year, the Legislature continued the program until July 1, 2019, and allowed up to 20 municipalities to participate.

Loretta Griffith of Ward 6, Jason Philabaun of Ward 2 and Council-at-Large Jerry Cogar were not present for Monday’s meeting.

In other business:

--Council members unanimously passed an ordinance to place a fire department levy on the Election Day ballot in November. The levy would fund $715,780 of what is presently a $1,630,662 line item in the city’s budget.

--City council approved a second supplemental resolution authorizing and approving certain additions as to the project description and other details of the waterworks and sewer system revenue bonds. The Series 2014 A (bank qualified) bonds will not exceed $2.2 million, while the Series 2014 B (taxable) bonds will not surpass $500,000. Callaway explained that, by taking this action, the city was able to refinance and renegotiate a better rate on its bonds.

-- Council unanimously passed an ordinance naming the alley accessed from Kanawha Terrace and between Kirk Stadium and property west of Washington Street “Jim Lewis Way.”

-- Callaway swore in Sandy Hudson as a new Municipal Judge, upon the resignation of Thomas Stricklen. Hudson is a paralegal of 32 years, she said, and her father practiced law for 55 years.

-- The mayor announced the reappointment of Les Smith to the Fire Civil Service Commission, with a term to expire May 21, 2018. No action was required on council’s part.

-- City council approved payment of current invoices in the amount of $20,557.67, end-of-year budget revisions, and payment of end-of-year invoices.

-- City resident Dave Rucker complained about the trash piled up at a house on the corner of Monmouth Street and Kanawha Terrace and asked council what could be done. Callaway detailed the city’s unsuccessful efforts to tackle the problem, both in court and before the health department, and advised Rucker to make similar attempts of his own.

St. Albans City Council will meet again at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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