LOGAN The Logan City Council has voted to begin the process of turning Logan into one of West Virginia's home rule cities.
Started in 2007 as a pilot program for the cities of Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling and Bridgeport, home rule allows municipalities to have more control in managing local issues by allowing them to implement ordinances, rules and regulations not available under normal statutes that apply to all municipalities.
After the initial pilot period, the home rule program was expanded, and 34 municipalities in the Mountain State now participate. In March, the Legislature rewrote the statute to make the program permanent and open to all municipalities in the state.
During Thursday's council meeting, Mayor Serafino Nolletti said he has taken a backseat approach to home rule, watching and traveling to other municipalities to observe its effect. The program, he said, has benefited other cities and towns tremendously.
One example of how the home rule program has helped comes out of Clarksburg. According to a February article published in the WV News, based in Clarksburg, revenues from that city's 1% sales and use tax allowed under the program assisted with the financing of a $16 million renovation project to a historical grand performing arts center.
Nolletti said such funding, if Logan were to become a home rule city, could be used for demolitions, renovations, street pavings and more.
"This 1% tax could be a real shot in the arm to Logan," Nolletti said. "Look at what they did with the Charleston renovation the Civic Center, and the South Charleston Fire Department. They built a new fire department new firetrucks. It could benefit the citizens tremendously, I can't say enough, if this does come into effect for the little City of Logan. It would really be beneficial for all the citizens of Logan and anyone that comes into Logan.
"We're limited on our tax base," he added. "All towns are limited on what they can do to generate revenue, and this home rule is another tool the cities have now to try to make our towns better."
Everyone in the room, including the four present members of the council, agreed and were hopeful that home rule could be the next step in improving Logan. The council unanimously voted to have the city's attorney, Kendal Partlow, begin the process of applying for home rule status.
In the midst of the enthusiasm, however, Nolletti was quick to warn that achieving the status could take some time.
"It's a process," he said. "You don't just say, 'Hey, I want to be in it.' There's an application that has to be filled out very in-depth application. The Home Rule Board has to review these applications. We might get shot down the first time"
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.