Residents of Weirton may be wary upon learning city council is attempting to gain more powers and authorities through West Virginia's home rule program.
The program would allow approved municipalities to enact powers, through ordinance, which otherwise would not be allowed to them under state law. A pilot program has been in place with five select cities and, for the most part, has had positive results.
At first glance, however, it appears as if most of the regulations being proposed will have little impact on the day-to-day lives of Weirton's citizens. Many may not even realize they are in place - that is, of course, if they are approved by the state.
That's one of the things we must all keep in mind with this home rule program; just because the city wants to enact these powers, it doesn't mean any of them are guaranteed. There is a state board which still must give its approval.
The city is proposing four changes which otherwise it would be unable to do under existing state law:
* Allowing probationary employment of inspections officials while providing them time to obtain their certification
* Allowing "on site" citations for external property maintenance issues
* Providing city police officers with the power to enter into Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission certified businesses to investigate or prevent a crime without having an ABCC agent accompany them
* Allow the city to move forward with select traffic issues - including lights, signage, speed limits - on state roads in the city without having to get approval from the state Department of Highways.
Weirton is among more than a dozen municipalities in the state applying to be a part of this program. There is sure to be a mix of results depending upon the needs of each community, and, fortunately, there are layers of oversight.
We thank the Weirton city officials for moving forward with this opportunity and hope it pays off for the community.
Furthermore, we encourage all Weirton residents to learn more about the proposal and express your thoughts to city council before it is voted on.