Ordinances pass first reading

Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton, right, administers the oath of office to Christopher Lowther, who was appointed to City Council Thursday night.

ELKINS – Elkins City Council approved five ordinances on their first readings Thursday night utilizing authority granted by its participation in the West Virginia Home Rule Pilot Program.

The five ordinances, if approved on a second reading, will then be included in the city’s amended Home Rule plan, which could be filed as early as July.

Ordinance 230 involves the disposition of municipal property and would grant the city the right to lease or convey such properties to nonprofit organizations for less than fair market value — and without public auction — when the nonprofit organization is providing services that benefit the public.

In addition, the city would be able to sell its real or personal property valued in excess of $1,000 for fair market value without a public auction, provided that Council has determined the property would be used to facilitate economic development projects or benefit the citizens of Elkins.

The other four ordinances involve the requirements to serve on various boards and commission.

Ordinance 231 would give the city an exemption when filling positions on the Police Civil Service Commission, eliminating the party affiliation requirements.

Ordinance 232 does the same for the city’s Fire Civil Service Commission, and Ordinance 233 eliminate the party affiliation requirements for the Municipal Building Commission.

Ordinace 234 eliminates that same requirement for the city’s ballot commissioners and poll workers.

Officials noted Thursday that the change would allow for the selection of the best qualified candiates and that, under the current code, it is sometimes difficult to fill these positions because of the party affiliation requirements.

All five ordinances were approved by an 8-1 vote, with First Ward Councilman Rhett Dusenbury as the lone disenting vote. Fourth Ward Councilwoman Marilynn Cuonzo was abscent.

In other business:

• Christopher C. Lowther was appointed to Council to fill the vacancy left open by the departure of Mark Scott, who resigned after winning a Randolph County Commission seat. Lowther will serve until March 31, 2019.

• Spring cleanup has been scheduled for April 17-28, beginning in the First Ward. City workers typically spend two days gathering items in each ward.

• City Hall will be closed Monday in observance of President’s Day. The trash pick-up schedule will remain normal.

• Local businessman Mark Doak praised the Elkins Police Department during the public comment period of Thursday’s meeting for the increased foot patrols and for the use of door hanges to let businesses know officials had spot-checked their buildings.

• Elkins Main Street Executive Director Karen Carper presented the groups annual report to Council. She also presented Main Stree’s streetscape vision.

• Council briefly discussed the Brunch Bill issue, which would allow eateries and other specified locations to serve alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

• During a Revenue Committee meeting earlier Thursday, officials discussed possible adjustments to the city’s B&O tax structure, the addition of a 1 percent sales tax and the possible annexation of several areas. No decisions were made.