Government, Latest News, Monongalia County, Morgantown Council

Mon Commission joins Morgantown Council in supporting MMAGIC

MORGANTOWN — With a 2-1 vote, the Monongalia County Commission joined Morgantown City Council in supporting the creation of MMAGIC, or Monongalia Morgantown Area Geospatial Consortium.

Commissioner Tom Bloom voted in the minority.

The memorandum of agreement approved Wednesday lays out the groundwork for collaboration between the GIS   (geographic information system) offices of Morgantown, Monongalia County and the Morgantown Utility Board to work together to eliminate duplication of efforts and allow for cost-sharing.

GIS technology uses aerial photography, as well as computer software, to analyze, manipulate, manage and present geographical information.

Bloom said he’s in support of MMAGIC’s goals, but not the 13-page agreement, and accompanying 11-page appendix, detailing how the body will function.

“I believe this is clearly overkill and I’m very concerned. We’ve been collaborating for years. A very simple [memorandum of understanding] could resolve this issue,” Bloom  said, echoing a concern first raised by MUB Board of Directors member Tom Witt, who called the agreement “overly complex.”

MUB ultimately took no action on the agreement, allowing the city council and county commission to move first.

Bloom said the city and county shouldn’t need legal documents in order to collaborate. He said he also has concerns because similar agencies elsewhere have become their own “quasi-legal governmental body.”

While it was previously noted that the various partners involved in MMAGIC will remain autonomous and accountable to their own governing bodies, the agreement creating it is based off a similar arrangement between Louisville and Jefferson County (Ky.) known as LOJIC. That body is its own intergovernmental agency.

Morgantown City Council voted unanimously to approve the agreement on Tuesday.

“This group is not shy about going first,” Mayor Jenny Selin said, encouraging the county and MUB to get on board.

Commissioner Jeff Arnett said the agreement is one of many ongoing examples of collaboration between Morgantown and Monongalia County.

Commission President Sean Sikora agreed, noting that while the agreement itself may not be perfect, he believes the creation of MMAGIC is a good thing.

“Is the agreement long? Yes. Is it confusing? It can be. But the technology is confusing and complicated. I do think as we go along there will be further efficiencies that can be written into the agreement and how this group operates,” he said. “From my perspective, I don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”

Both Morgantown City Council and the Monongalia County Commission read proclamations recognizing Nov. 17 as GIS Day during their respective meetings.

TWEET @DominionPostWV