MORGANTOWN, W.Va – The oversight and operations of Morgantown Utility Board is expected to be on center stage during Morgantown City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.
Council is scheduled to consider the first reading of a controversial ordinance that would grant the council more oversight and control of the board. The proposal was introduced during last week’s committee of the whole meeting as a way to improve communications between the municipally owned utility and city council.
“We’re trying to improve communications and transparency and trying to make a more cooperative relationship,” said Morgantown Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble. “I think that this is a good step towards that.”
Not everyone believes the ordinance is aimed at improved communications. The Board of Directors for MUB issued a statement after the ordinance was introduced calling the ordinance “both unnecessary and contrary to the apolitical and autonomous nature of MUB.”
“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.
Members of the MUB are expected to be in attendance Tuesday night and address city council members.
The ordinance has also caught the attention of the Monongalia County Commission. The majority of MUB customers, 62 percent of water customers and 55 percent of sewer customers, reside outside of city limits.
The proposal would make a number of changes to the structure and authority of the board, including the make-up of its members. Currently, there are five members on the board, appointed by city council. Two of the members may reside outside the city limits while the other three must be residents of the city of Morgantown
The draft ordinance states the five-member board would now include one member of city council and four residential customers. No more than two members could reside outside city limits and the city council would make all the appointments.
There is no requirement that anyone living outside the city be appointed to the board.
Also, the city manager would serve on the board as a non-voting ex officio member.
The ordinance includes that any acquired real estate or interests therein would be the property of the City of Morgantown.
It stipulates that any construction project exceeding $1 million would require the city council’s approval and that any project council deems is outside the ordinary course of business.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Monongalia County Commission Chambers.