City council to meet
HUNTINGTON -- On a 23-item agenda, the Huntington City Council will take up four proposed revisions to the city charter and an ordinance amending the council's televised meetings policy, among other issues.
The charter revisions are all first readings, meaning they will advance to a second reading without a vote unless tabled or moved to a committee.
Approved last week by the City Council charter review committee, the changes would double the time an employee could hold an interim title from 60 to 120 days, redefine how the city maintains its motor pool to make use of modern technology, eliminate the requirement that the director of public works be a licensed engineer and change the job title of city director of administration and finance to city manager.
All of the proposed changes would be placed on the November general election ballot for city residents to approve.
Of all the proposals, the one that has generated the most debate is the job title change to city manager.
Council members have expressed concern that residents will be confused, since Huntington used to operate under a city manager form of government, before switching to a strong-mayor format in 1985.
City officials have been clear that this is a name change for a city job title, and not a switch in government format.
Ultimately, council members and Mayor Steve Williams wanted the name change because it more clearly states what the job entails.
Other options were considered, including director of operations and municipal operations manager. Council members shared a laugh when they realized the latter would be identified as "mom."
The position is currently vacant.
One item up for second reading that drew some criticism at the council's last meeting is a revision of the city's televised meetings ordinance.
Councilman Gary Bunn worked with City Attorney Scott McClure to build some safeguards into the ordinance should the council want or, due to some emergency, need meet somewhere other than City Hall. Added language also spells out that certain actions, such as executive sessions when the council is discussing pending litigation or personnel decisions, along with the meeting of ad hoc committees, should not be broadcast.
Ultimately the ordinance made it through first reading without amendment.
Other items on Monday's agenda include the re-zoning of several parcels of land owned by St. Mary's Medical Center, including the former Highlawn Baptist Church which the hospital acquired at auction last year for $600,000, from residential to neighborhood/commercial. St. Mary's has not yet stated a definite intended use for the property.
The council will also hear first reading of an ordinance to award a bid and begin construction on phase one of the Huntington Skatepark project, a three-phase development at Harris Riverfront Park.
The project, which was initially stalled by high bid numbers, was re-bid late last month with a low bid of $202,900, which City Finance and Planning Director Charles Holley stated he believed was feasible.
Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter at BenFieldsHD
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.