Belington mayor vows not to resign despite complaint

Belington Mayor Jody Haller said Thursday he did not plan to resign despite a resident filing a complaint about his having recently moved outside Belington city limits.

Haller gave each Belington City Council member a copy of the complaint during Thursday’s council meeting.

The complaint, filed by Richard L. Chambers, pastor of the Belington Church of the Nazarene, insists that Haller resign or be removed by City Council because of his change in residency.

“According to the Belington city charter, the mayor must resign,” Richard L. Chambers, pastor of the Belington Church of the Nazarene, told The Inter-Mountain Thursday afternoon. “He moved out of Belington two weeks ago and it did not become apparent until last Monday that he had moved.”

Haller told The Inter-Mountain before Thursday’s meeting that he planned to move back to Belington as soon as possible.

“For personal reasons I am temporarily, and temporarily only, living in a location out of town at this point,” Haller said. “My intentions are to move back into Belington so that I can hold the mayor’s position.”

Haller said the situation is no different than if his house burned down and he had to find another place to reside.

“I am looking for a place in Belington and will move back when I find one,” Haller said. “I have talked with each council member about my situation. I feel communication is key.”

During Thursday’s meeting, Haller briefly addressed the issue while distributing copies of the complaint to council members.

“Council are all aware of this and it is a personnel issue,” councilwoman Suzanna Skidmore said during the meeting. “Council is aware of this complaint.”

There was no further discussion of the matter during the meeting, which Chambers did not attend.

Earlier Thursday, Chambers said if Haller did not resign, or was not removed by council, he would seek legal action.

“I have already talked to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office and Barbour County Circuit Court,” Chambers said. “If they (Haller and the city council) do not take action, it will be forwarded to Circuit Court.

“He (Haller) can’t say he didn’t know about the requirements of the charter because when he became mayor, he swore to uphold the requirements of the charter,” Chambers said.

Chambers pointed to Section 7, page 5 of the Belington City Charter as evidence that Haller was no longer eligible to be mayor.

The passage reads, “No person shall be eligible to the office of mayor or councilman, unless at the time of his election he is legally entitled to vote in the city election for member of the common council, and was for the preceding year assessed with taxes upon real or personal property within the said city… .”