Editorials, Opinion

City’s fire levy request faux pas

There are few things we are taught in “career readiness” courses in high school and college that, while technically about submitting resumés, applies equally well to much of adult and professional correspondence: Address it to the appropriate individual or entity, and make sure to submit it in a timely manner.

The City of Morgantown failed to do either.

We’ll let you read Ben Conley’s article in today’s paper for the full details, but in short: The Morgantown city manager and fire chief sent a letter to the Monongalia County Commission asking it to “correct” language in the fire levy — which supports volunteer fire departments — to include the Morgantown Fire Department.

There are two things wrong with this: The Monongalia County Commission does not write the levies, so the city addressed its request to the wrong entity; and the letter was sent less than 30 days before levies must be finalized and only received by the body actually in charge of writing the fire levy (Monongalia County Volunteer Fire Association) roughly 20 days before the final deadline, which is not nearly enough time to redo a document asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers.

We’ll leave the discussion of whether it is right for the MFD to receive levy funds for another day. But we can say that the City of Morgantown approached the issue incorrectly. Not only is it barking up the wrong tree, but it had four years to have formal discussions about possibly adding MFD to the levy. It should not have waited until less than a month before the levy must be finalized before making an official request. And the city certainly won’t endear itself to the levy writers by implying their hard work needs to be “corrected.”

The Volunteer Fire Association seems willing to have a conversation with the city and the Morgantown Fire Department about adjusting the levy. However, given the many faux pas in its request, the City of Morgantown should consider rescinding its appeal and wait until the next levy renewal.