Mayor Williams Announces Hiring, Non-Essential Spending Freeze at Work Session; Flood Plain Ordinance Could Impact Historic Property

Updated 36 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
A proclamation issued at the Work Session honored World War II veteran, Clayton Wilson, for his service.
A proclamation issued at the Work Session honored World War II veteran, Clayton Wilson, for his service.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams has announced a hiring and non essential spending freeze as a prudent fiscal measure, although sales taxes continue to be ahead of projections. The Mayor told Huntington City Council of the decision at the Thursday, Feb. 6 work session.

He indicated that the city's contingency is cash short and supported mainly by potential "obligations," such as worker's compensation and insurance. Describing contingency as "lower than what I am comfortable, I want to act before someone squeals," he said, referring to his time spent on the council finance committee during the Wolfe administration.  A similar freeze was instituted when he took over as mayor. "We did this last year to help create a cushion", he said.

The explanation came in response to first reading of an ordinance to replace a floodwall division tractor. Williams said the current equipment dates from the 60s. "It is unusable and will be scrapped."

In addition, Council Chairman Mark Bates has announced that there will be a Special Call Executive Session to discuss the proposed settlement of the Huntington Marine lawsuit regarding the long disputed proposed Westmoreland barge facility lease. The session occurs Monday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Bates proposed that the executive session be held prior to the council meeting in order not to have the hall jammed with attendees due to what would have been a need to empty the chamber mid-meeting of council.

Foreshadowing another portion of the agenda and executive session, councilman Pete Gillespie asked about an agenda item that shifts property in District 2 to the Huntington Municipal Development Authority. Buzz persists that a  barge facility may be proposed in District 2 (West End).

Mayor Williams Announces Hiring, Non-Essential Spending Freeze at Work Session; Flood Plain Ordinance Could Impact Historic Property

As a sound byte for thought, Mayor Williams asked council members for a priority list of sidewalk repair  in each of their districts. The Mayor advised this is a preview of an item that will be fully explained in his State of the City address slated for Friday, February 15 at 3 p.m. in council chambers at Huntington City Hall. He apologized for scheduling it at a time when many constituents are still at work.

The only Monday  second reading updates Huntington code related to flood plain development. Although applying primarily to new structures, the ordinance contains a clause pertaining to buildings on the National Historic Register. Under the provision, Historic preservation construction would comply with the ordinance, if more than 50% of the project upgrade was the result of (historic) flooding or 50% of  the structure's value was upgraded.  The penalty for non compliance could be removal from the National Register of Historic Places, the ordinance states. An exemption decision could be made either by a State Historic Preservation officer or someone from the federal Register.

The planning commission has unanimously approved the changes.

 

 

 

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