According to online sources, forty of the fifty U.S. States apply some form (constitutional or statutorial) of principal to allow municipalities to govern themselves as they see fit. In 2007, the West Virginia Legislature approved the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program and the Municipal Home Rule Board to oversee the program. Since that time the program has expanded to include thirty-eight municipalities around the State. In 2019 the West Virginia Legislature approved Senate Bill 4, signed into law by Governor Jim Justice, making the Home Rule Program permanent and open for all municipalities to apply. The City of Elkins was granted acceptance into the program on November 16, 2015. Once approved as a “Home Rule City”, a municipality may petition the Board for amendments to their plan an unlimited number of times.
The program grants individual authority to municipalities to implement ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations not specifically permitted, or in some instances in conflict with, West Virginia Law. There are limits however – any Home Rule authority must still comply with the U.S. Constitution, the West Virginia Constitution, federal law, and chapters sixty-a (“Uniform Controlled Substance Act”), sixty-one (“Crimes and Their Punishment”), and sixty-two (“Criminal Procedures”) of the West Virginia Code. Home Rule cities around the State have requested and received Board approval to address a variety of local issues such as stagnant revenues; dilapidated properties; difficulties in recruiting civil service board members and applicants; and barriers to efficiencies in working with other governments.
The City of Elkins original Municipal Home Rule Pilot Project Application presented in 2015 included eleven requests for separate authorities, ten of which were granted by the Board. In 2017, the City presented an Amendment to the Approved Written Plan, asking for an additional nine authorities. The City withdrew two of the requests based on deliberations occurring in the State Legislature at the time, but the remaining seven were approved by the Board. Below is an overview of the City’s current Home Rule authorities and the ordinances that have been adopted to date. The “n/a” under ordinance number and adoption date simply indicates that Council has not taken action yet. Each of these authorities is currently, or will be in the future, under consideration by Council.
|Description||Authority Granted||Ordinance Number||Ordinance Adopted|
|"On the Spot" Citations||Nov. 2015||216||Jul. 2016|
|Registration and Maintenance of Foreclosed Properties||Nov. 2015||213||Jul. 2016|
|Public Nuisance Liens||Nov. 2015||n/a||n/a|
|Satisfaction of Demolition Liens||Nov. 2015||n/a||n/a|
|Transfer or Lease of City Property to Private and Non-profit entities||Nov. 2015||230||Mar. 2017|
|Part-time Police Officers||Nov. 2015||207||Apr. 2016|
|Raising Maximum Age for Joining Civil Service Police Departments||Nov. 2015||205||Jan. 2016|
|Party Membership Requirements for Election Boards and Civil Service Commissions||Nov. 2015||231, 232, 233, 234||Mar. 2017|
|Business License and Categories Fees||Nov. 2015||212||Jun. 2016|
|Distance between WVABCA License Holders and Churches||Nov. 2015||n/a||n/a|
|"Brunch Bill"||Jul. 2017||245||Sep. 2017|
|Allocation of Funds for City Marketing and Tourism||Jul. 2017||238||Feb. 7, 2019|
|Intergovernmental Agreements||Jul. 2017||250||Feb. 2018|
|Municipal Court and Technology Fee||Jul. 2017||244||Sep. 2017|
|Community Enhancement Districts||Jul. 2017||n/a||n/a|
|Reducing the Number of Eligibles from Certified List of Police Civil Service Commission||Jul. 2017||251||Feb. 2018|
|Municipal Sales Tax||Jul. 2017||248||Dec. 2017|