There’s a list of fighting words in West Virginia from A-Z.
Two that come to mind at the beginning of that list and at its end are annexation and zoning.
We’re not sure which one leads to an argument quicker if you’re itching for something to start.
But as unpopular as the mention of zoning is outside municipal limits, annexation is also a tough sell there, at best. Last year the subject of annexation came up repeatedly from Kingwood to Granville and Westover.
And of course in Morgantown. Matter of fact, Morgantown cited annexation as one of its nine goals in a recently completed “Strategic Plan 2017-2019.”
Its annexation goal’s lone objective is to: “Expand opportunities for efficient and quality service delivery.”
The listed action steps include:
— Designing and implementing an annexation blueprint.
— Gathering and presenting analysis and support to evaluate target areas.
— And achieving a community engagement campaign.
Obviously, it would be great for the city if developed areas on Morgantown’s borders would line up to be annexed.
The B&O tax windfall, new fire fee receipts and greater property tax revenue all would benefit the city.
Yet, the city must do more than stand on a corner and rattle a tin cup seeking such contributions.
The city will clearly need some good marketing and a stellar presentation about costs and benefits.
Present the city’s fiscal stability, its growing population, quality of services and so on.
But more importantly, City Council needs to look at some self-improvement, too, before convincing anyone they want to be part of it.
For instance, change downtown’s perception from one big block party three days a week to one that welcomes families and visitors.
Despite new lighting and additional police there’s still this impression the city doesn’t control downtown.
The city also needs to make better use of the Metropolitan Theatre and help lure businesses downtown.
Attractive amenities such as a popular retailer, an indie cinema or another small hotel are still missing.
Public transit has improved but there’s still room for improvement, especially in light of the bus depot move.
Otherwise, enticing commercial and residential developments to warm up to annexation might be facilitated with tax incentives or other perks.
No, not permanent ones, but say a five-year plan that offers new businesses a lower B&O tax initially.
We think it’s important that we accommodate new residents and businesses to the city with attractive reasoning.
Rather that, than giving them plenty of reason to realize they can fight City Hall.