State lawmakers are being asked to extend and expand West Virginia’s Home Rule Pilot Program.
For the past five years, home rule has given city leaders in Wheeling, Charleston, Bridgeport and Huntington more control over how their cities operate. Without legislative action, the program will end on July first.
Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie says it should be allowed to continue beyond that point.
“I can tell you, if you look at experience and what we’ve done in Wheeling and what they’ve done in other parts of the state already, these four cities, we’ve been able to reduce the burden. We’ve been able to get rid of bureaucracy in our community,” Mayor McKenzie said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
“We realize, at the local level, that there are just some things that one size doesn’t fit.”
Mayor McKenzie, a former state Senator, says many city problems cannot be solved from Charleston. That’s why he’s calling on lawmakers to extend the pilot program, which was first approved in 2007, for five more years and expand it to other cities.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones agrees. “We can do it better,” he said.
He says its local leaders who are closest to to their communities and the most accountable to voters.
“They can grab me by the political neck and throw me right out or any of my council members,” Mayor Jones said. “We have wards that are small and we have a lot of council members. That’s where the power should be.”
The West Virginia Municipal League supports the extension of the West Virginia Home Rule Pilot Program.
The 2013 Regular Legislative Session runs through April 13th.