More than 20 West Virginia cities are 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 Trecost told the Charleston Daily Mail the board will meet June 13 via 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.
St. Albans Mayor Dick Calloway said run-down property is a major issue that home rule could help cities address.
“What everyone is concerned with in any community of age … is dilapidated buildings,” Calloway told the newspaper. “That’s one of the things I think you’re going to see repeated over and over in the applications.”
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.
— The Associated Press