Stakeholders, Political Officals Prepared to Continue Working Together

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Stakeholders, Political Officals Prepared to Continue Working Together

One of the potential challenges facing the Mayor elect’s administration will be legislative approval of continuation of the Home Rule program. Steve Williams has already pledged to take the court stymied occupation tax off the table. Meanwhile, the city of Huntington hopes that its 1% municipal sales tax will not face extinction.

Following the presentation of Mayoral transition reports, State Senator Robert Plymale told HNN, “Del. Jim Morgan and Mayor Elect Williams and I have talked. We look forward to an open dialogue. I think we can get where we need to be.”

He continued, “Obviously we work very well with officials from the city.  I think they are looking in a better direction now (for home rule) in terms of the things they are looking at.”

Del.  Jim Morgan surmised losing the sales tax “is not a big concern. I think we are OK on that, but it takes 133 other people up there.”  He added, “the legislature is already working on extension of the Home Rule project probably taking it to other cities, which would allow Huntington to continue with what they have started and present new programs. Some of them may not turn in to general law, but they will be OK for the cities passing the ordinances.”

Ray Canafax, president of Local 228 of the  Professional Firefighters Association , expressed optimism.

“I’m pleased with the recommendations. They echo what we have been trying to say for some time. Mr. Williams has a vision and he’s looking to provide the best safety that he can,” Canafax said.

Reacting to a statement in the transition hearings that personnel are more important than a contract, the union president agreed. “I think public safety and protecting our people is always high [but] a contract does provide the safety levels we have been asking for. They go hand in hand, but I would put the number of personnel first on our priority list.”

As for the truck short staffing issues that surfaced during the last two years, “We’ve had talks with Mr. Williams and he is committed to try and make sure our trucks are staffed every day.”

Another priority for Canafax is “making sure the fire marshal’s office is staffed,” but added that the Mayor elect has given no time frame or definitive commitment.

Speaking for the Huntington Police Department, Captain  Hank Dial agreed, “we could utilize additional civilians,” referring to a recommendation that sworn officers be put back on the streets not confined to clerk or office type responsibilities, such as grant writing or clerks. “They listened to us, they were attentive, and recognized the needs of the Huntington Police Department.”

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