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Morgantown Council takes no action on MUB, approves deal for Defense in Depth facility

MORGANTOWN — While members of Morgantown City Council indicated Tuesday that progress is being made regarding proposed changes impacting the Morgantown Utility Board, the body opted to take no action on the issue.

Late last month the city made public an ordinance amending Article 169 of city code, changing the makeup of the utility’s board of directors and giving city council increased control over MUB projects.

MUB came out strongly opposed to the ordinance. Council voted 4-3 to table it on Oct. 4, providing an opportunity for the two sides to make their respective cases.

MUB and the city met behind closed doors with a facilitator on Monday. Councilors indicated they walked away from the meeting feeling optimistic.

“We had a very productive meeting. A lot of great discourse back and forth. We have some action items we’re going to work on moving forward so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that later, but I think we’ve come to some consensus on things and that’s a good place to be,” Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble said.

In other news, council voted 6-1 to approve an ordinance authorizing bill of sale, lease, promissory note and security agreement to make the Sabraton facility currently known as Defense in Depth a training facility for the city’s first responders.

Through the agreement, the city will be on the hook for $500,000 up front and a 10-year lease totaling $240,000 annually.

The city will sign a $1.5 million promissory note, and must seek up to $500,000 in additional grant dollars, which would go to the seller/lessor, Mark Nesselroad. However, once the initial $500,000 is paid and the lease terms are satisfied, the balance of the promissory note will be written off, grant or no.

In a lengthy bit of procedural confusion, members questioned why Tuesday’s vote was listed as a first reading when the body voted on the issue on Oct. 4. Further, they continued, if Tuesday’s vote was actually a second reading (adoption), why was a public hearing on the matter not listed on the agenda. 

Ultimately, council indicated Tuesday’s vote would be considered the official first reading and the Nov. 1 vote for adoption would include a public hearing.

Trumble was the lone vote against the issue.

Also on Tuesday, council approved a $2,952,900 bid from Commercial Bidders Inc. for the bond-funded renovations to city hall.

Director of Engineering and Public Works Damien Davis said that project will likely begin in the next month or so and take nine months to complete.

The project touches every floor of the building and includes repairs and replacement of the historic windows, a new HVAC system and modification to the building’s plumbing and electrical systems, among a list of other items.

Lastly, council approved a resolution opposing Amendment 2, the Property Tax Modernization Amendment — one of four constitutional amendments before West Virginia voters when early voting opens next week.

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