LOGAN — In what Mayor Serafino Nolletti called a historic day, the Logan City Council on Nov. 12 adopted the second and final reading of a proposed ordinance to enter the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule program.
The move allowed the city to formally submit a written Home Rule proposal to the Municipal Home Rule Board. Joined by the city of Montgomery, the decision of whether Logan will become a home rule municipality now goes to Charleston on Wednesday, Nov. 20, for the official hearing under the state Home Rule Board.
Home Rule was originally created as a pilot program by the West Virginia Legislature in 2007 that enables municipalities “to be creative in addressing local problems by implementing ordinances, rules and regulations not otherwise available because of the various one-size-fits-all statutes that apply to all municipalities,” according to the West Virginia Department of Revenue’s website. The program became permanent with the signing of Senate Bill 4 by Gov. Jim Justice in March 2019.
Under the program, cities and towns are permitted to implement their own 1% sales and use tax that goes directly to the municipality. Proponents of the program in municipalities where it has been implemented say the extra revenue has helped them with various things like infrastructure projects, building renovations and pensions for city employees.
For example, in a Feb. 17 article from the WV News, Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe said the 1% tax assisted in financing the $16 million project to renovate a performing arts center, allowed them to invest in police and fire pension funds and helped finance the replacement of a bridge. “There are several infrastructure projects that would have been very difficult to take on or complete without the use of the 1% sales tax,” Howe said.
Logan City Clerk Amber Miller said at the Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting that she hopes Logan can achieve the same results if accepted into the program.
“That 1% revenue is going to be so significant for the City of Logan that we hope that it changes the face just like it’s done for all these other towns,” Miller said.
Logan’s path to Home Rule has been rather rapid. City council voted to begin the process on July 11, and just under three months later on Oct. 3, the first reading of the ordinance proposal was passed while the West Virginia Municipal League was in town for its board meeting. Logan Mayor Nolletti currently serves as president of the WVML.
“We were told by the workshop that we wouldn’t get it done by the end of the year,” Miller said, “so this is big on so many different fronts. It’s big because, number one, it’s happening, but number two, because if we would not have been able to get a Home Rule hearing by the end of the year, we wouldn’t have been able to start collecting taxes until 2021.”
If Logan does get accepted into the Home Rule program at the hearing, the city will begin collecting taxes on July 1, 2020. Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram will ask the Home Rule Board if the towns can waive the July 1 date and begin collecting taxes on Jan. 1 instead, according to Nolletti.