Former Clarksburg councilman talks infrastructure and home rule

The 46th annual league meeting was held in Wheeling.
The 46th annual league meeting was held in Wheeling.

WHEELING, W.Va. — City and town leaders from across the state wrap up a 4-day conference Thursday where they are collecting ideas and sharing ideas to keep their communities thriving.

The 46th Annual Conference of the West Virginia Municipal League has been hosted at Wheeling’s Oglebay Resort.

Jim Hunt is a past president of the National League of Cities and a former Clarksburg councilman.

In an interview with MetroNews Talkline’s Hoppy Kercheval, he said municipalities face pricey challenges with infrastructure maintenance and development.

“Those bridges that lead into town and so forth, when those fail, our economies go to pot,” explained Hunt. “It really comes down to infrastructure in West Virginia. Cities have a huge investment. In many cases, they have limited ways of addressing it.”

The League offers informative workshops and seminars related to municipal government operations during each annual conference.

Hunt presented to attendees Tuesday. He reflected on a vital project that needed attention years ago in Clarksburg.

Chestnut Street, a main artery connecting two areas of the Harrison County municipality, was crumbling and a main water supply line for the city was subject to breaking, according to Hunt.

“The state did not have the money. The feds were not allocating the money. We worked with the governor and worked many years and committed a million dollars to that project,” Hunt recalled.

Hunt, the founder of Amazing Cities, said cities have to step up first before reaching out for assistance.

“They need to find those ways financing to get the seed money on a lot of projects because that’s what stands a project out. If the state is looking at all these projects, they’re looking at the ones that say ‘Hey, we got some money’.”

The city of Clarksburg, with no user fee to raise revenue, would have benefitted from more local control, according to Hunt.

“I think city’s need to have that element of home rule to be able to fund needed infrastructure and needed things in the communities.”

Municipal league conferences focus on everything from city policing efforts to court cases that city leaders statewide could face.