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Morgantown to merge code enforcement, development services departments

 MORGANTOWN — During a recent city of Morgantown budgeting workshop, City Manager Kim Haws said there has been a focus on increasing  the efficiency within the city’s internal operations.   

One notable result of that effort will be the merging of the city’s development services and code enforcement departments.

“We’re doing a reorganization that covers those two departments, so the director of development services will now be over planning and code,” Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli said.

Muzzarelli said now is the time to make the move as the city is in the process of hiring a new development services director after the departure of Chris Fletcher in September. The city lost Code Enforcement Director Mike Stone to retirement in December.

She said the city reposted a  listing for the code enforcement position that reflects the restructuring. 

The idea drew some pushback.

Councilor Bill Kawecki questioned why the city would put more administrative responsibilities on the person charged with leading the critical roles of planning and development. 

Muzzarelli said the move, which includes cross training code enforcement personnel, is intended to do the exact opposite by taking things like inspections and other field work away from the  development services office.  

“I think pulling away some of the day-to-day grunt work and marrying those with another department that is completely capable and already does many of those services in a very similar fashion can allow those individuals who have more of an education and background in planning to be able to focus on the economic development aspect of it,” she said.

Haws added that he also plans to play a large role in  planning and the pursuit of economic development.

“I can see some of that shifting onto me anyway naturally because that’s the way I work,” he said. “I’m hoping that, together, we can make that work, but certainly if we’re understaffed there, that’s not a place that we feel we can afford to skimp on.” 

The issue was initially raised when Mayor Ron Dulaney asked why there was a $53,425 reduction in the city’s planning budget for the upcoming 2022 fiscal year — from $352,257 to $298,832.

Muzzarelli said that reduction reflected an unfilled zoning compliance officer position. She said zoning compliance is one of the responsibilities that could be taken on by existing staff within code enforcement.