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Unread 12-01-2009, 04:25 PM
 
8 posts, read 12,779 times
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Question Re: "Home Rule"

I am having difficulty locating any updated information on WV's "home rule" project (which cities have instituted it, how well it's being received, experiment deadline, positive v. negative impact, etc.), and I would like to learn something more definite about it before I contemplate relocating to the region. I am particularly interested in the Charleston area, but would also be interested in being brought up to date on any of the other cities participating in the project. Thank you very much.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 05:38 PM
 
Location: VAB
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Four cities get Home Rule-wvpubcast.org
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Unread 12-01-2009, 05:54 PM
 
8 posts, read 12,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spazkat9696 View Post
Yes, Spaz, that is one of the articles I was already aware of, and was the latest information I could find on the topic: I found it was neither recent enough nor went into enough detail to satisfy my questions, hence my resorting to this forum to inquire of persons with "personal" knowledge & experience who can fill me in on some of those details.
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Unread 12-01-2009, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Huntington, WV
2,688 posts, read 3,022,539 times
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Huntington was one of the home rule cities and has enacted 3 out of 4 of its home rule proposals with some success. It proposals were " 1) a fast track authority to acquire dilapidated buildings and establish a "land bank" into which those properties can be placed for demolition, upgrading, sale and being returned to the tax rolls; 2) requiring a small percentage of the insurance payment to a policy holder be escrowed until the debris left by a total loss fire was removed and the property returned to useful condition; 3) increasing the capacity of the city to collect past due fees and taxes; 4) establishing a municipal occupation or retail sales tax." All of the proposals have been started with the exception of the payroll tax. This would be the most controversial but would also replace the current flat rate user fee as well as likely replace or decrease B&O taxes.

There has also been some controversy though as some of the proposals are contrary to current state law. This was the intent of home rule though to allow cities to "step outside the box" and adopt new laws that the state currently didn't allow. This has caused some lawsuits which had to be settled through communication and negotiation rather than full blown litigation.

Personally, I would like to see more flexibility allowed to cities as this has been shown to work elsewhere and Huntington should be allowed to deal with Huntington's problems in the best way rather than having to have permission from the capital. A good example of this was the recently passed pension legislation. Rather than letting the city fund this in what ever way works best for them, permission had to be obtained through new legislation that took nealry a year to get agreement on just to be able to essentially refinance the pension costs. Had this been taken care of years ago when the problem was identified, it would have allowed the city to be much more prosperous and focused more on infrastructure rather than inflating pension costs.

Here are some articles that you may want to read up on if you are interested in home rule:

Home-rule plan to target housing problems - The Herald Dispatch

Panel OKs city's home rule proposal - The Herald Dispatch

Action on home rule plan some time away - The Herald Dispatch

Injunction cools down home rule challenge - The Herald Dispatch

Calvin Kent: Attacks on city's home rule efforts unwarranted - The Herald Dispatch

Editorial: City performs well in first chapter of land-bank effort - The Herald Dispatch
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Unread 12-01-2009, 10:57 PM
 
4,715 posts, read 7,946,508 times
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You might want to look at the effect the 'home rule policy has had on the inhabitants of Germantown, Md. Market devaluation of homes have not been reflected in lowering real estate taxes and the buying up of entire sub-communities by the Chinese government is causing a rapid out-migration.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 01:00 AM
 
8 posts, read 12,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbailey1138 View Post
Huntington was one of the home rule cities and has enacted 3 out of 4 of its home rule proposals with some success. It proposals were " 1) a fast track authority to acquire dilapidated buildings and establish a "land bank" into which those properties can be placed for demolition, upgrading, sale and being returned to the tax rolls; 2) requiring a small percentage of the insurance payment to a policy holder be escrowed until the debris left by a total loss fire was removed and the property returned to useful condition; 3) increasing the capacity of the city to collect past due fees and taxes; 4) establishing a municipal occupation or retail sales tax." All of the proposals have been started with the exception of the payroll tax. This would be the most controversial but would also replace the current flat rate user fee as well as likely replace or decrease B&O taxes.

There has also been some controversy though as some of the proposals are contrary to current state law. This was the intent of home rule though to allow cities to "step outside the box" and adopt new laws that the state currently didn't allow. This has caused some lawsuits which had to be settled through communication and negotiation rather than full blown litigation.

Personally, I would like to see more flexibility allowed to cities as this has been shown to work elsewhere and Huntington should be allowed to deal with Huntington's problems in the best way rather than having to have permission from the capital. A good example of this was the recently passed pension legislation. Rather than letting the city fund this in what ever way works best for them, permission had to be obtained through new legislation that took nealry a year to get agreement on just to be able to essentially refinance the pension costs. Had this been taken care of years ago when the problem was identified, it would have allowed the city to be much more prosperous and focused more on infrastructure rather than inflating pension costs.

Here are some articles that you may want to read up on if you are interested in home rule:

Home-rule plan to target housing problems - The Herald Dispatch

Panel OKs city's home rule proposal - The Herald Dispatch

Action on home rule plan some time away - The Herald Dispatch

Injunction cools down home rule challenge - The Herald Dispatch

Calvin Kent: Attacks on city's home rule efforts unwarranted - The Herald Dispatch

Editorial: City performs well in first chapter of land-bank effort - The Herald Dispatch
Thanks for the insight, bailey. I am especially interested in learning if the "flat fee" (city services "user" fees) have yet been repealed in any of the participating cities, and what the timeline may be for such repeals if not yet implemented.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
3,855 posts, read 6,372,391 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Kennedy View Post
You might want to look at the effect the 'home rule policy has had on the inhabitants of Germantown, Md. Market devaluation of homes have not been reflected in lowering real estate taxes and the buying up of entire sub-communities by the Chinese government is causing a rapid out-migration.
What effect did home rule have on the devaluation of r/e? I have several friends that live in Gaithersburg and Germantown and from what I have gleaned is that the values dropped proportional to the absurd rapid acceleration of the last decade. Montgomery County has been 'home rule' for 60 years or more, so I'm curious how that would have some immediate impact on the devaluation of the market.

Also- never heard about the Chinese Gov't buying blocks there. Any link to that info? That sounds rather interesting.

Last edited by Threerun; 12-02-2009 at 07:36 AM..
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Unread 12-02-2009, 10:53 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport Maine
1,241 posts, read 1,652,866 times
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The dreaded "user fee" which I hate, loathe and despise has been raised several times in both Huntington and Charleston over the past several years. It bothers me to see people who work in those cities but don't live in them to have to pay a fee for the priviledge of working there.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 03:07 PM
 
Location: Huntington, WV
2,688 posts, read 3,022,539 times
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The user fee is no different than a payroll tax except it's flat and isn't proportional to the salary. It doesn't matter it you make $20,000/year or $200,000/year the fee is still $3/week. That's why some would like to see it changed to a payroll tax. The added benefit would be that if Huntington can lower B&O taxes by doing so, it looks much more attractive to potential businesses. Also, I could say it bothers me to see people using the roads and services I help pay for when they don't pay a dime and then complain about the service. This would be unrealistic and counter productive though. We have to start seeing ourselves as whole areas rather than an individual town or city.

The people who really have a gripe about the user fee are the ones who live and work in the cities. I live in Huntington and work in Huntington so I pay both a municipal fee and a user fee so I get hit twice. But you know, I don't mind at all because it's not that much and to see more streets get paved and more services provided, I think it's worth it. One can't expect more with less which is what we often do with regards to expectation of services. We have to realize that the main cities in our areas are seeing costs go up and revenue go down. If we want our areas to be attractive as a whole, it starts with the image projected by the main city. An attractive city brings more residents, more jobs, and more opportunity and I think it's worth not only $156/year and my municipal fees to help add to this but I also give my time to try to help in other ways as well. Be the change you want to see. I do this not for me but so that if my sons what to stay in Huntington, they will have an opportunity to do so. But this will happen only if myself and others in the community help to make that foundation stronger for our future generations.
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Unread 12-03-2009, 03:59 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 7,946,508 times
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Thank you Bailey:

My younger son was paying $25,000 per year in Montgomery County payroll taxes..Property taxes were off the wall and the 200 neighbors who were chinese nationals and would/could not visit openly or talk and neighbor eventually became unbearable.
He said, "Dad, we feel like prisoners and if I speak to somebody on the sidewalk as I walk the kids, somebody comes out of their house to listen to us or watch us."

He said moving to Harpers Ferry was worth about $70,000 in gross income to them...

I'm not knocking Montgomery County, when a couple makes a lot of money they can afford to give it away...and the lifestyle there is great, after all it is a model county and Germantown is a model city for the USA..
I think with 4 kids, he wanted to get their college funding underway and moving across the border was a more practicle way to re-distribute the wealth...
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