Bluefield, WV city leaders propose "home rule" - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Bluefield, WV city leaders propose "home rule"

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BLUEFIELD, W. Va (WVVA)-- Tuesday's board meeting in Bluefield began with a discussion about "home rule"-- a way to bring more power to local government.

The board plans to apply for Phase II of the "West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program." Cities like Charleston, Huntington, and Wheeling were accepted for Phase I, the testing phase of the plan, and now Phase II invites other cities to come on board.

It's a way for cities to gain more indendence and tweak state code to better fit their needs, according to Bluefield's Economic Redevelopment and Planning Director.

"We can come up with initiatives that will make us more competitive," said Cline, "but also help us govern ourselves better. What works in Wheeling doesn't necessarily work in Bluefield. So we are hoping this will be a way for us to manage the city a little bit better."
 
Bluefield leaders hope to update the B&O tax structure, and change how the city sells property for economic development, as part of its home rule.

Mayor Tom Cole said the current B&O tax is outdated and needs to be changed to reflect "modern" times. According to Cline's presentation, that tax would be reduced in certain categories and then a sales and use tax would be implemented to make up that difference.

Also, the city would like to more easily allow buyers to purchase its properties, if their intention is to facilitate more economic development.

These plans are not set in stone and could be subject to change as the city moves forward with its application process.

The plan would need approval from the state's home rule board. The deadline is June 2, 2014.

A public meeting will be held March 25th at 5:30 to discuss the proposal. Anyone interested in learning about the plan can contact Joshua Cline at his city office or come to the meeting.
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