Council to Fill Third Ward Vacancy

City Councilor Clint Higgins (Third Ward) has resigned. Applications will be accepted until December 23 from Third Ward residents interested in being appointed to fill his seat until the 2023 election.

How Council Fills Vacant Seats

The city charter stipulates that, when a council seat becomes vacant,  it “shall be filled by appointment of a qualified person by council.” The charter further states that, in addition to being qualified to vote in Elkins, “councilors shall reside in the ward to be represented at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office.” Only voting-age persons who are qualified to vote in Third Ward are, therefore, eligible to apply for this position.

A protocol adopted by council in 2016 spells out the process of filling a vacancy in more detail. As required by this protocol, council has adopted a resolution officially announcing the vacancy, establishing an application period and deadline, and directing how applications may be submitted.

The resolution directs interested candidates to submit resumes in person/by mail to the Elkins City Clerk, 401 Davis Avenue, or electronically to jsutton@cityofelkinswv.com, no later than 12:30 p.m. on December 23. Qualified applications will be reviewed by the mayor and council, and interviews will be scheduled.

Interviews are performed by council and the mayor and consist of a standardized set of questions. Answers are scored by all elected officials present, and an average score is calculated.

The interview step is followed by a meeting at which council deliberates toward its top candidate. Once this candidate’s continued interest has been verified, he or she will be scheduled for appointment at the next council meeting.

Persons interested in applying are encouraged to attend council meetings, on first and third Thursdays, and to learn as much as possible about the structure of the Elkins government, which is unusual.

What Council Members Do

Elkins is chartered as a weak-mayor/strong-council system. Under this arrangement, Elkins mayors have limited authority. Councilors have no individual authority, but, acting as a 10-person body, the Elkins council exercises virtually all executive and corporate authority over the City of Elkins.

Through majority votes by a quorum of its members, council passes laws, adopts rules, and sets policy and strategic goals. Council is responsible for adopting the annual budget and monitoring the fiscal condition of the city; councilors can be held individually liable if budgets are overspent.

Five administrative officers report to council (the city clerk, the city treasurer, the fire chief, the operations manager, and the police chief). These officers are responsible for day-to-day operating and administrative decisions for their departments.

Elkins councilors are paid $7,200 a year and can enroll in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System. Alternatively, they may forego salary and participation in the retirement system and instead join the city’s PEIA health-insurance plan. No other benefits are available to council members.

Read more about what city councilors do: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/city-clerk/elections/what-city-councilors-do.

Find what ward you’re in: www.bit.ly/elkins-ward-finder

Council Committee Diary: October 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from October:

  • Municipal Properties: Discussed the condition of tree grates and heard a proposal for purchase of ash bins for cigarette disposal.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): (Formed to identify opportunities to further strengthen the city’s organizational structure.) Worked on changes to the job descriptions of the operations assistant and the operations administrative assistant.
  • Personnel Committee: Continued work on possible structures for a proposed human resources position, an employee benefits proposal, and what to do about anticipated increases in health insurance premiums during the 2024 fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2023).
  • Public Safety Committee: Discussed next steps after notification of pending award of $300,000 for demolition of condemned properties under the state program established during the 2022 legislative session.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Recommended to council ordinances revising city laws concerning nuisance animal noise and certain definitions in the 2022 zoning code.

Council Committee Diary: September 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from September:

  • Finance Committee: Identified funding for an engineer’s proposal to complete a Streetscape Design Plan, declined to waive fees for use of the downtown sound system to play Christmas music throughout the 2022 holiday season, and identified funds for asbestos abatement of a derelict property on River Street.
  • Municipal Properties: Discussed various matters concerning the Darden House (stained glass repair, leases for office tenants, use by outside parties for events) and the contract for the downtown flowers program. The committee also heard and declined to recommend council approval of a request for a utilities easement from the directors of the Mountain State Forest Festival. This easement would have allowed installation of an electric service pole next to the city-owned parking lot near Railroad Avenue and Third Street for use by a private company during the festival.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): (Formed to identify opportunities to further strengthen the city’s organizational structure.) Worked on changes to the job descriptions of the operations assistant and the operations administrative assistant.
  • Personnel Committee: Considered possible structures for a proposed human resources position, changes to method of reimbursement for employee travel, an employee benefits proposal, and what to do about anticipated increases in health insurance premiums during the 2024 fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2023).
  • Planning Commission: Worked on refining definitions in the zoning code of various types of events, discussed topics for a zoning FAQ, and reviewed the process of enforcing and administering the new zoning code.
  • Public Safety Committee: Heard reports from public safety officials.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Discussed nuisance dogs, free-roaming cats, and zoning code enforcement, fees, and fines.
  • Sanitary Board: Took various personnel actions related to promotions, discussed an engineer’s needs assessment for the sewer and water systems, considered a contract for IT support, worked on policies for installation of check valves and stormwater taps, discussed next steps for the foam-filled sewer line under Randolph Avenue between Sycamore Street and Park Street (location approximate), and took final actions related to the conclusion of Bear Contracting’s work on Lavalette Avenue under warranty from last summer’s sewer/stormwater separation project.
  • Special Hiring Committee (ad hoc): (Formed to search for a new operations manager.) After interviewing six candidates, the committee made an offer to its top choice. The candidate then declined the offer, and the search process must be started over. (The job listing is here.)
  • Water Board: Considered contracts for electrical  and IT support, discussed Worth Avenue line break, worked on policy for water service tap fees.

Council Committee Diary: July 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from July:

  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Reviewed requests for ARPA expenditures to upgrade programmable logic controllers at the wastewater treatment plant and to purchase air compressors for the water treatment plant.
  • Finance Committee:  Reviewed compensation of the city treasurer.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): This committee was formed in May to look for opportunities to further strengthen the city’s organizational structure. In July, worked on the structure of the building inspector/code enforcement/zoning officer position.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended to council reappointment of the city treasurer and adding a Street Department position to the city’s classification and compensation plan.
  • Public Safety Committee: Listed properties that are top priority for demolition during fiscal year 2023, which began July 1.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Recommended to council a rule requiring confidentiality for matters discussed in executive session. Reviewed charter and code provisions concerning appointment and terms of the city’s administrative officers.
  • Special Hiring Committee: This committee was formed in June to recruit a new operations manager. In July, the committee reviewed applications.

Council Committee Diary: June 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from June:

  • Finance Committee: Reviewed requested budget revisions and considered the city treasurer’s proposal to contract with Invoice Cloud for expanded online payments capabilities.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): This committee was formed in May to look for opportunities to further strengthen the city’s organizational structure. In June, the committee heard suggestions on this topic from the city’s five administrative officers.
  • Personnel Committee: Began work on recruiting a new operations manager after the July 1 resignation of the incumbent.
  • Public Safety Committee: Discussed downtown intersections and options for new traffic lights, new stop signs, etc.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Referred to council a proposed law enabling restaurants to serve customers on the public sidewalk. Discussed but took no action on a possible rule requiring confidentiality for matters discussed in executive session.

Council Committee Diary: May 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from May:

  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Recommended using ARPA funds to fund study of sewer extension along N. Randolph Avenue and replacement of a Wastewater Collection Department service truck needed to pull lift-station pumps. Miscellaneous other requests from the fire department, street department, and wastewater system.
  • Finance Committee: Recommended funding Seneca Mall parking lot renovations, a pavilion for the Kump Education Center, and a new garbage truck. Also recommended approval of the FY 2023 budgets for the Elkins Fire Department, the Landfill Fund, and the Sanitation Fund. Considered bids for the city’s property and liability insurance policies.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Identified a suitable site for placing a generator needed for the Tygart Hotel project. Considered but took no action on a proposed MOU with the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission; discussed lease agreements with Darden House office tenants; recommended cooperation with the Randolph County Development Authority to arrange for the transfer of a road near Riverbend Park to the state highway system; recommended renewing the lease on the Fraternal Order of Police lodge; reviewed proposed designs of new “Welcome to Elkins” signs.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): Ad hoc committee formed to study and recommend changes to the city’s organizational structure. First meeting was May, when procedures and scope of work were discussed.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended reclassification of a position in the Operations Department and reviewed services provided by AlignHR, the city’s human resources contractor.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended authorization to apply for a $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Grant Program to fund purchase and installation of surveillance cameras throughout downtown Elkins; recommended authorization to apply to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Worked on new laws concerning open containers, outdoor restaurant seating in city-owned rights-of-way, and deer population control.

Council to Fill Second Ward Vacancy

City Councilor Charles Friddle, III (Second Ward) has resigned, and council meets Wednesday at 5 p.m. to plan for identifying and appointing a Second Ward resident to fill his seat until the 2023 election.

How Council Fills Vacant Seats

The city charter stipulates that, when a council seat becomes vacant,  it “shall be filled by appointment of a qualified person by council.” The charter further states that, in addition to being qualified to vote in Elkins, “councilors shall reside in the ward to be represented at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office.” Only voting-age persons who are qualified to vote in Second Ward are, therefore, eligible to apply for this position.

A protocol adopted by council in 2016 spells out the process of filling a vacancy in more detail. As required by this protocol, council will at Wednesday’s meeting be presented with a proposed resolution officially announcing the vacancy, establishing an application period and deadline, and directing how applications may be submitted.

A draft resolution prepared for this meeting directs interested candidates to submit resumes in person/by mail to the Elkins City Clerk, 401 Davis Avenue, or electronically to jsutton@cityofelkinswv.com, no later than June 17. Qualified applications will be reviewed by the mayor and council, and interviews will be scheduled.

Interviews are performed by council and the mayor and consist of a standardized set of questions. Answers are scored by all elected officials present, and an average score is calculated.

The interview step is followed by a meeting at which council deliberates toward its top candidate. Once this candidate’s continued interest has been verified, he or she will be scheduled for appointment at the next council meeting.

Persons interested in applying are encouraged to attend council meetings, on first and third Thursdays, and to learn as much as possible about the structure of the Elkins government, which is unusual.

What Council Members Do

Elkins is chartered as a weak-mayor/strong-council system. Under this arrangement, Elkins mayors have almost no authority. Councilors have no individual authority, but, acting as a 10-person body, the council exercises virtually all executive and corporate authority over the City of Elkins.

Through majority votes by a quorum of its members, council passes laws, adopts rules, and sets policy and strategic goals. Council is responsible for adopting the annual budget and monitoring the fiscal condition of the city; councilors can be held individually liable if budgets are overspent.

Five administrative officers report to council (the city clerk, the city treasurer, the fire chief, the operations manager, and the police chief). These officers are responsible for day-to-day operating and administrative decisions for their departments.

Elkins councilors are paid $7,200 a year and can enroll in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System. Alternatively, they may forego salary and participation in the retirement system and instead join the city’s PEIA health-insurance plan. No other benefits are available to council members.

Read more about what city councilors do: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/city-clerk/elections/what-city-councilors-do.

New Council Committee to Study City’s Organizational Structure

A new temporary council committee will review the city’s organizational structure and recommend changes, as ordered by Mayor Jerry Marco last month.

The ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee will be led by Councilor Charlie Friddle, III and consist of Councilor Mike Hinchman, Councilor Dave Parker, Councilor Linda Vest, and the mayor.

In his memo directing the creation of this committee, the mayor said the idea came “as a result of discussions had and discoveries made by the previous ad hoc Special Hiring Committee.”

The mayor continued: “I believe special attention should be given to reviewing and, if needed, recommending changes in the way our organization is structured to support employees and provide the highest quality service to our constituents.”

The ad hoc Special Hiring Committee was formed last fall to recruit a new operations manager. Before finalizing the job description and advertising the opening, however, that committee, which was also led by Councilor Friddle, studied the structure of the city’s Operations Department and recommended certain changes to council, including shifting administrative responsibility for all water and sewer personnel and operations to the Elkins Water Board and Elkins Sanitary Board.

Now, the new ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee will perform a similar analysis of other city departments. The committee, which commences its work this month, will meet third Tuesdays at 1 p.m.

Council Committee Diary: April 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from April:

  • Finance Committee: Recommended council approve various budget revisions and EFD’s request to apply for a grant.
  • Rules & Ordinances: Recommended council approve an ordinance, based on those of other West Virginia cities and prepared by the city attorney, regulating parking in alleys.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended council approve entering into an MOU with area law enforcement agencies concerning mutual aid
  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Authorized by council to make award decisions for $154,000 in ARPA funds dedicated by council for community-proposed projects, the committee granted funds to 11 community organizations, including the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA, the Randolph County Humane Society, the Elkins Farmers Market, and Meals on Wheels.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Heard requests for changes to traffic patterns on Gorman Avenue (from Davis Medical Center, for patient and visitor safety) and the transfer of city-owned property to an adjacent property owner in an area of floodplain formerly belonging to the International Order of Odd Fellows; reviewed a draft of a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a streetscape design plan
  • Committee on Boards and Commissions (ad hoc): Formed to review city and state statues authorizing and regulating local boards and commissions to ensure consistency and compliance, the committee completed its work and was dissolved after April’s review of two final boards, the Board of Trustees of the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library and the Elkins Water Board.

Council Committee Diary: March 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of March 2022.

  • ARPA Advisory Committee: Recommended approval of requests to use ARPA funds for expenditures for the wastewater system, parks, and Davis Health System.
  • Finance Committee: Recommended increase in the FY 2022 paving budget, approval of various grant applications, and creation of a standalone fund to account for expenditures and revenues of the Elkins Fire Department.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Discussed next steps after the termination of the EHLC lease on the Darden House.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended approval of changes to the calculation of holiday pay for civil service police officers and firefighters, adoption of a longevity policy, and various changes to the compensation and classification plan. The committee also recommended reappointment of the city attorney to a one-year term.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended EPD enter into pilot program for evidence tracking technology at no cost to the city; considered grant applications.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Did not meet this month.
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