MORGANTOWN, W.Va – The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) is taking a stand against a proposed ordinance that would give the Morgantown City Council more oversight and control of the board and the utility’s operations.
Board members released a statement after meeting in executive session to discuss the ordinance.
“It’s formatted with the board’s input and approval, and it was the consensus of the board’s thought process,” said Morgantown Utility Board Chairman JT Straface on the statement opposing the proposed ordinance.
The proposal requires a member of Morgantown City Council to be a voting member of the five-person MUB board. Morgantown’s City Manager would also serve on the board but in a non-voting capacity. The ordinance would require Morgantown City Council to approve all MUB projects valued at over $1 million.
Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin stated to MUB Thursday that the ordinance’s purpose is to improve communications with the city and the utility and is not intended to be a takeover of the utility. Despite that, MUB addressed aspects such as the acquisitions of MUB property and the way the operations have the potential to be affected as other points of concern.
“If the issue is really communication, this, in my opinion, doesn’t really address communication, it addresses operations,” said MUB board member Barbara Parsons. “And I think that’s a step too far,” she said.
Mayor Selin, also invited MUB board members to speak with City Council at Tuesday’s upcoming meeting.
MUB’s statement considers the ordinance “both unnecessary and contrary to the apolitical and autonomous nature” of MUB and that several aspects of the ordinance create a “clear conflict of interest for a councilperson” on the board that also has the potential to hinder operations. Despite the concerns, MUB plans on further discussing the ordinance with council.
“I think we’re just trying to understand the reasoning behind the ordinance changes and what are the problems that the council believes that they are trying to resolve,” said Straface.
This continues years of communication issues between the two that have delayed projects from recreational amenities to raw water pipeline projects.
“We’re going to listen to what the presentation is at the city council meeting and provide some information and see where it goes from there,” said Parsons.