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W.Va. cities want pace toward home rule kept slow

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 01:45 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia cities say they aren’t ready to accept more power from state government, even though a recent legislative study recommends as much.

The state Municipal League instead advises lawmakers to continue the pilot program applauded by last week’s report.

West Virginia has a highly centralized government. Four cities experimented with increased powers during the five-year program. Auditors found they successfully tackled blight, simplified business licensing and strengthened their finances. The report recommends expanding home rule to cities statewide.

The Municipal League suggests extending the pilot for another five years while allowing four more communities to participate. The group believes towns should be allowed in if they qualify.

The league wants annexation excluded from the program. But it and some city mayors are urging lawmakers to allow for tax changes.