Morgantown council seeks public input on possible term, election changes 260

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council wants to get a sense of public opinion on a charter change that would double city council terms and stagger council elections.

During council’s recent committee of the whole meeting, the body opted to take the idea to the Neighborhood Coordinating Council before taking up formal action — likely during its second regular meeting this month, Feb. 20.

The Neighborhood Coordinating Council’s next scheduled meeting is Feb. 12.

The proposed law would make a handful of changes to the city charter, including doubling council’s two-year terms to four years.

The law would also stagger council elections by basically splitting council into two groups following the first municipal election after the charter changes are passed, presumably the city’s next election, in April 2019.

The four candidates to receive the top four vote totals would be elected to four-year terms. The three remaining winning candidates would be elected to two-year terms.

From that election forward, all council members will be elected to four-year terms.

It was explained that Morgantown is basically alone among the state’s larger cities in having council serve two-year terms. Council members in cities like Charleston, Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Huntington, Wheeling and others, serve for four years.

Typically a charter change must be placed on a ballot if any objections are raised. Otherwise, the issue would go through the normal ordinance process of two readings and a public hearing.

In this case, City Attorney Ryan Simonton said council will decide the course it wants to pursue and then go ahead and adopt an ordinance placing it on a ballot.

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