Council Committee Diary: May 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from May:

  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Recommended using ARPA funds to fund study of sewer extension along N. Randolph Avenue and replacement of a Wastewater Collection Department service truck needed to pull lift-station pumps. Miscellaneous other requests from the fire department, street department, and wastewater system.
  • Finance Committee: Recommended funding Seneca Mall parking lot renovations, a pavilion for the Kump Education Center, and a new garbage truck. Also recommended approval of the FY 2023 budgets for the Elkins Fire Department, the Landfill Fund, and the Sanitation Fund. Considered bids for the city’s property and liability insurance policies.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Identified a suitable site for placing a generator needed for the Tygart Hotel project. Considered but took no action on a proposed MOU with the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission; discussed lease agreements with Darden House office tenants; recommended cooperation with the Randolph County Development Authority to arrange for the transfer of a road near Riverbend Park to the state highway system; recommended renewing the lease on the Fraternal Order of Police lodge; reviewed proposed designs of new “Welcome to Elkins” signs.
  • Organizational Audit Committee (ad hoc): Ad hoc committee formed to study and recommend changes to the city’s organizational structure. First meeting was May, when procedures and scope of work were discussed.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended reclassification of a position in the Operations Department and reviewed services provided by AlignHR, the city’s human resources contractor.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended authorization to apply for a $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Grant Program to fund purchase and installation of surveillance cameras throughout downtown Elkins; recommended authorization to apply to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Worked on new laws concerning open containers, outdoor restaurant seating in city-owned rights-of-way, and deer population control.

Council to Fill Second Ward Vacancy

City Councilor Charles Friddle, III (Second Ward) has resigned, and council meets Wednesday at 5 p.m. to plan for identifying and appointing a Second Ward resident to fill his seat until the 2023 election.

How Council Fills Vacant Seats

The city charter stipulates that, when a council seat becomes vacant,  it “shall be filled by appointment of a qualified person by council.” The charter further states that, in addition to being qualified to vote in Elkins, “councilors shall reside in the ward to be represented at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office.” Only voting-age persons who are qualified to vote in Second Ward are, therefore, eligible to apply for this position.

A protocol adopted by council in 2016 spells out the process of filling a vacancy in more detail. As required by this protocol, council will at Wednesday’s meeting be presented with a proposed resolution officially announcing the vacancy, establishing an application period and deadline, and directing how applications may be submitted.

A draft resolution prepared for this meeting directs interested candidates to submit resumes in person/by mail to the Elkins City Clerk, 401 Davis Avenue, or electronically to jsutton@cityofelkinswv.com, no later than June 17. Qualified applications will be reviewed by the mayor and council, and interviews will be scheduled.

Interviews are performed by council and the mayor and consist of a standardized set of questions. Answers are scored by all elected officials present, and an average score is calculated.

The interview step is followed by a meeting at which council deliberates toward its top candidate. Once this candidate’s continued interest has been verified, he or she will be scheduled for appointment at the next council meeting.

Persons interested in applying are encouraged to attend council meetings, on first and third Thursdays, and to learn as much as possible about the structure of the Elkins government, which is unusual.

What Council Members Do

Elkins is chartered as a weak-mayor/strong-council system. Under this arrangement, Elkins mayors have almost no authority. Councilors have no individual authority, but, acting as a 10-person body, the council exercises virtually all executive and corporate authority over the City of Elkins.

Through majority votes by a quorum of its members, council passes laws, adopts rules, and sets policy and strategic goals. Council is responsible for adopting the annual budget and monitoring the fiscal condition of the city; councilors can be held individually liable if budgets are overspent.

Five administrative officers report to council (the city clerk, the city treasurer, the fire chief, the operations manager, and the police chief). These officers are responsible for day-to-day operating and administrative decisions for their departments.

Elkins councilors are paid $7,200 a year and can enroll in the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System. Alternatively, they may forego salary and participation in the retirement system and instead join the city’s PEIA health-insurance plan. No other benefits are available to council members.

Read more about what city councilors do: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/city-clerk/elections/what-city-councilors-do.

New Council Committee to Study City’s Organizational Structure

A new temporary council committee will review the city’s organizational structure and recommend changes, as ordered by Mayor Jerry Marco last month.

The ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee will be led by Councilor Charlie Friddle, III and consist of Councilor Mike Hinchman, Councilor Dave Parker, Councilor Linda Vest, and the mayor.

In his memo directing the creation of this committee, the mayor said the idea came “as a result of discussions had and discoveries made by the previous ad hoc Special Hiring Committee.”

The mayor continued: “I believe special attention should be given to reviewing and, if needed, recommending changes in the way our organization is structured to support employees and provide the highest quality service to our constituents.”

The ad hoc Special Hiring Committee was formed last fall to recruit a new operations manager. Before finalizing the job description and advertising the opening, however, that committee, which was also led by Councilor Friddle, studied the structure of the city’s Operations Department and recommended certain changes to council, including shifting administrative responsibility for all water and sewer personnel and operations to the Elkins Water Board and Elkins Sanitary Board.

Now, the new ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee will perform a similar analysis of other city departments. The committee, which commences its work this month, will meet third Tuesdays at 1 p.m.

Council Committee Diary: April 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is an overview of council committee work from April:

  • Finance Committee: Recommended council approve various budget revisions and EFD’s request to apply for a grant.
  • Rules & Ordinances: Recommended council approve an ordinance, based on those of other West Virginia cities and prepared by the city attorney, regulating parking in alleys.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended council approve entering into an MOU with area law enforcement agencies concerning mutual aid
  • ARPA Advisory Committee (ad hoc): Authorized by council to make award decisions for $154,000 in ARPA funds dedicated by council for community-proposed projects, the committee granted funds to 11 community organizations, including the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA, the Randolph County Humane Society, the Elkins Farmers Market, and Meals on Wheels.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Heard requests for changes to traffic patterns on Gorman Avenue (from Davis Medical Center, for patient and visitor safety) and the transfer of city-owned property to an adjacent property owner in an area of floodplain formerly belonging to the International Order of Odd Fellows; reviewed a draft of a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a streetscape design plan
  • Committee on Boards and Commissions (ad hoc): Formed to review city and state statues authorizing and regulating local boards and commissions to ensure consistency and compliance, the committee completed its work and was dissolved after April’s review of two final boards, the Board of Trustees of the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library and the Elkins Water Board.

Council Committee Diary: March 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of March 2022.

  • ARPA Advisory Committee: Recommended approval of requests to use ARPA funds for expenditures for the wastewater system, parks, and Davis Health System.
  • Finance Committee: Recommended increase in the FY 2022 paving budget, approval of various grant applications, and creation of a standalone fund to account for expenditures and revenues of the Elkins Fire Department.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Discussed next steps after the termination of the EHLC lease on the Darden House.
  • Personnel Committee: Recommended approval of changes to the calculation of holiday pay for civil service police officers and firefighters, adoption of a longevity policy, and various changes to the compensation and classification plan. The committee also recommended reappointment of the city attorney to a one-year term.
  • Public Safety Committee: Recommended EPD enter into pilot program for evidence tracking technology at no cost to the city; considered grant applications.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: Did not meet this month.

Council Committee Diary: February 2022

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of February 2022.

ARPA Advisory Committee: Committee work during February included revising previously authorized expenditures by the Elkins Water Board.

Finance Committee: Committee work during February included grant applications by the Elkins Fire Department, Kump Education Center, and Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission; equipment payoffs in various city departments; the cost of yard-waste recycling; the transfer of surplus police vehicles to another law enforcement agency; an HVAC system for the Treasurer’s Department; and the purchase of a server.

Municipal Properties Committee: Committee work during February included consideration of a proposal for the installation of an HVAC system for the Treasurer’s Department and ongoing monitoring of accessibility and other projects recently commenced at city hall. The committee also considered a request to transfer surplus EPD vehicles to another department and proposed grant applications by the Kump Education Center and the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission.

Personnel Committee: Committee work during February included discussion of implementing a system of longevity pay, how to apportion an increase in the cost of PEIA health insurance, and supplemental pay for temporarily assigned duties.

Public Safety Committee: Committee work during February included consideration of a citizen suggestion concerning parking and traffic safety on South Davis Avenue.

Rules & Ordinances Committee: Committee work during February included consideration of rules for parking in alleys.

Council Committee Diary: December 2021

Last modified on January 7th, 2022 at 11:02 am

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of December 2021. (Most committees did not meet during December.)

  • Finance Committee: At its December 6 meeting, the committee supported the police chief’s request to purchase a portable radar sign for $3,500. These signs lock to existing signposts and can be installed in minutes by one staff member. They measure and show the speed of approaching vehicles, and they also record detected speeds for trend analysis. The committee also supported an end-of-year stipend for general fund employees and recommended a salary range for the new operations manager of $50-65,000 a year.
  • Special Hiring Committee: At its December 1 meeting, this ad hoc committee charged with identifying the next operations manager finalized a new job description for the position and authorized staff to advertise it and begin accepting applications.
  • At December meetings, the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Water Board discussed compensation and staffing levels. These boards are not committees of council but rather standalone entities governing these two vital infrastructure systems.

Council Committee Diary: November 2021

Following is a summary of committee work from the month of November 2021.

Most council agenda items originate in one of council’s standing or ad hoc committees. You can learn more about council committees here and find meeting times and agendas here.

  • Finance Committee: At its Nov. 1 meeting, the committee discussed the issue of providing an allowance for work boots for certain city departments. The committee was advised that IRS rules require such items to be taxed as compensation to the employee. No further action was taken. The committee also approved a proposal by the city treasurer to outsource mailing of utility bills to reduce costs.
  • Public Safety Committee: At its November 17 meeting, the committee learned that EPD tentatively plans to purchase Motorola body-worn and dashboard cameras. A meeting with area businesses is planned to discuss a new enforcement strategy for off-premise shopping carts. The police chief presented information about a radar sign he would like to purchase; it can be hung from signposts by a single staff member and records speed information for analysis. The need for higher compensation for the communications specialist and sworn officers was discussed. There is a significant pay disparity between the city and the county sheriff’s department.
  • Personnel Committee: Meeting November 16, the committee discussed how temporary assignment of additional duties should be compensated and how to adjust the city hall schedule for the holidays (current policy is not cleanly applicable to years when Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on weekends). The committee determined that pro-rating benefits for full-time employees who work less than 40 hours in a week is not practical.
  • Rules & Ordinances Committee: The committee, meeting November 10, decided not to recommend that council prohibit “street legal” UTVs on city streets. The committee also worked on reorganizing city laws and penalties regarding parking/standing/stopping violations and recommended that council require that the Board of Zoning Appeals meet only quarterly (and as needed for appeals), rather than monthly.
  • Municipal Properties Committee: Meeting November 3, the committee worked through the recommendations of Bryson Van Nostrand, an architect, concerning prioritization of city hall projects in light of council’s dedication of ARPA funds to such projects. First priorities are related to the fire alarm system, accessibility (especially bathrooms), and repairs to the facade to reduce the danger that pieces could fall onto passersby.
  • Special Hiring Committee: The committee finalized an updated job description for the operations manager position (especially as necessitated by the decision to shift administrative oversight of the water and sewer systems to their respective boards).

Mayor Announces New Committees, Committee Memberships

Establishes Ad Hoc Collaboration and Marketing Committee and Addiction and Homeless Resources Task Force

Elkins, W. Va., April 7, 2021: Mayor Jerry Marco has made changes to Elkins council committee memberships and announced the formation of a new ad hoc Collaboration and Marketing Committee and a new inter-agency Addiction and Homeless Resources Task Force.

Under the new city charter adopted by council last year, Elkins mayors are granted authority to decide the membership of council’s standing committees and may also establish and appoint members of ad hoc committees. By longstanding custom, committee memberships are typically updated immediately following the city’s biannual elections.

Mayor Marco explained that the purpose of the new Collaboration and Marketing Committee is to further strengthen lines of communication between city officials and other agencies, organizations, and stakeholders in the Elkins community. Committee members will be charged with reducing duplication of efforts and increasing collaboration communitywide toward a goal of making Elkins even more appealing and attractive to new residents and businesses. Appointed to this committee are Councilors Charles S. Friddle, III; Nanci Bross-Fregonara; Clint Higgins; and Linda Vest.

The Addiction and Homeless Resources Task Force will consist of one council member, the chief of the Elkins Police Department, and the Randolph County sheriff. There will be at least four citizen members, as well. This body will also look for opportunities to reduce duplication of efforts, but specifically in the areas of addiction and homelessness prevention and response. According to Marco, task force members will seek and share information about available strategies and resources, as well as identifying and advocating for needed new resources.

Prior to adoption of the new charter, there were five standing council committees, and these are now stipulated as permanent: Finance, Rules & Ordinances, Municipal Properties, Public Safety, and Personnel. The table below shows the previous and new membership of each.

Committee Previous Membership New Membership
Finance Charles Friddle, III (chair)
Carman Metheny
Marilynn Cuonzo
Mike Hinchman (chair)
Rob Chenoweth
Christopher Lowther
Rules & Ordinances Linda Vest (chair)
Mike Hinchman
Rob Chenoweth
Nanci Bross-Fregonara (chair)
Clint Higgins
Marilynn Cuonzo
Municipal Properties Marilynn Cuonzo (chair)
Christopher Lowther
Karen Wilmoth
Marilynn Cuonzo (chair)
Charles Friddle, III
Judy Guye
Public Safety David Parker (chair)
Linda Vest
Mike Hinchman
David Parker (chair)
Judy Guye
Mike Hinchman
Personnel Carman Metheny (chair)
David Parker
Judy Guye
Rob Chenoweth (chair)
Linda Vest
Christopher Lowther

 

The Finance Committee has announced that it will continue to meet first Mondays at 10 a.m. Public Safety will continue to meet second Mondays at 10 a.m. The other committees have not yet announced the dates/times of their regular meetings.

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City Election Update

On March 2, city voters will elect a council member from all five wards and a new mayor.

Voters will also decide whether the city should:

  • Shift from its current Mayor-Council form of government to the Mayor-Manager form
  • Amend the charter to affirm the city’s commitment to complying with state open government rules
  • Extend the mayor’s term from two to four years (effective starting with mayor elected in 2023)

Registration for the March 2 election is now closed.

Early in-person voting for all wards will be at Elkins City Hall, February 17-27. Early voting is available Monday-Friday and Saturdays during the following hours:

  • Weekdays: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more election-related information, please see this webpage.

To review the candidates and ballot questions, click here.

Please contact the city clerk’s office with any questions.

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