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Why must Buckhannon charter be revised?

August 27, 2011
The Inter-Mountain


As a retired employee of the city of Buckhannon after 41 years of service, I have continued to want only the best solid fiscal foundation and fair government for the citizens of this city. Therefore, I have always tried to follow issues of importance as they are aired on TV 3. During one of the programs showing a meeting of the Charter Revision Committee on June 1, 2011, I heard the City Attorney, David McCauley, respond to a question concerning how an advertisement/mailing in support of the charter revision would be funded. He cautioned those present including the mayor that the city must not use taxpayer dollars to fund a campaign.

Shortly thereafter, I was again watching TV 3 when I saw an advertisement in support of voting YES on the proposed charter revision. I could not read the small print so I went to TV 3 and obtained an actual postcard stating "This Brochure approved, provided and paid for by the Citizens in Support of the Charter Revision"

Having not received this mailing at my home as other citizens did, I was shocked when I noticed the mailing permit used on this campaign literature was PERMIT NO. 14, which I immediately recognized as being the permit number used by the Utility Boards-City of Buckhannon to mail out monthly bills at a reduced postage rate.

I wondered aloud as to whom had authorized such usage and how its usage could ever be justified to the people who pay their utility bills, to the good citizens who serve on the Utility Boards, who may have been unaware of its usage for such a purpose, and to the common taxpayer who should now as the question "Why was this done and by whose authority?"

As a citizen, I have not in the past nor am I presently in favor of a change to our charter. I agree the charter may have some archaic language; however that is to be expected for a document written in 1993. The WV state code, Chapter 8 supersedes charters and therefore language in charters would be replaced with any new laws pertaining to municipalities which are passed by the state legislature.

As evidence of this, of the 234 incorporated cities, towns and villages in West Virginia, only 108 even have a current charter, according to information obtained from the West Virginia Municipal League.

All of this led me to question the real reason behind a charter revision. If it is a matter of archaic language, why not update the language? Could it be this charter revision is being used to change our form of government rather than clarify our charter?

Having served for a number of years on a strong mayor form of government, where the mayor is the administrative authority and the council is the governing body, I believe it to be the most democratic, the most citizen-involved and the most voter-controlled form of government provided to cities by the West Virginia State Legislature.

As a citizen opposed to the charter revision, I was not given nor would I have taken the opportunity to use a mailing permit belonging to the Utility Boards-City of Buckhannon.

I ask you to question yourself as to why incidents such as this are being allowed. Is this fair representation of the mayor's recent quote in The Record Delta that he will "leave it up to the voters." As a voter, I ask you to answer two questions. Do you know exactly why the charter must be changed? Do you know why our current form of government must be replaced?

I thank you for your time and consideration of this issue.

Nancy C. Shobe

Retired City Recorder-Treasurer



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