The City Pays More Than Its Fair Share

The residents and the businesses of the City of Morgantown pay more than their fair share for the greater Morgantown area, as they have for decades.

The City of Morgantown pays for the bulk of the greater Morgantown area park system. There is no county park (that is, non-city park) remotely close to the tens of thousands of non-city residents (let alone city residents) concentrated along and around the City of Morgantown. Nor is there a single county (non-city) park near any of the area cities (Granville, Star City, Westover). And there is certainly no nearby county (non-city) park for the city-size population clusters of Cheat Lake and Brookhaven. Nor is there any county (non-city) park next to most of the many smaller settlements throughout the county. It’s a scandal. A scandalous lack throughout the county.

(Annexation aside, it’s a particularly cruel crime that there is no park of any sort, certainly not a county (non-city) park, next to the thousands of people in and around crowded Brookhaven. Annexing or self-incorporating (and how about with some county encouragement and help this time?) of Brookhaven, also Cheat Lake, are next needed steps during or after initial rounds of City of Morgantown annexations.)

Of course the City of Morgantown pays for far more than the bulk of the greater Morgantown area park system.

The City of Morgantown pays also for the bulk of the area library system.

The City of Morgantown also pays for the largest area professional fire fighting force, and the largest area professional police force.

The City pays for many cultural activities and quality of life services and safety features (including zoning not least that benefits anyone who comes into the city, or even the general area) and for many area social services. Guess who heavily uses or otherwise benefits from all of this that the city pays for? City residents of course, but also “county” non-city residents, especially the concentrated populations of “county” non-city residents who live along or not far outside the City borders.

Should non-city residents be banned from frequenting and using the City of Morgantown parks? and libraries? and cultural events: parades, festivals, childrens’ events? Of course not. Should nearby non-city residents and businesses contribute to the upkeep of these city qualities since they are essentially urban residents and urban businesses benefiting from City services, amenities, infrastructure, and quality of life that the City pays to create, maintain, and improve? Of course they should. Of course the adjacent non-city concentrations of residents and businesses should be annexed. Forward thinking cities go so far as to annex even miles of farmland and forest around them, and for good reason.

Near-city “county” non-city residents benefit from the parks, the library, the public services and events, all the various public infrastructure, including roads, and the professional city police and fire services when in city (and indirectly when not). All these features, amenities, and public structure help make the City as livable as it is, including temporarily for visitors from far away, but especially for both the city and the non-city residents and businesses who live and profit in close proximity.

People living in concentrated urban areas along and around the city are a de facto, indivisible part of the City already, but no portion of their property taxes goes to the city, no fire fee, and none of these essentially urban but technically non-city businesses pay any B&O tax to the City (nor to anyone else). B&O (Business and Occupation) taxes make up about half the city budget, along with the much smaller portion of property tax. It’s crucial to area, county, and regional quality of life, often directly, often indirectly.

These essentially urban but technically non-city residents and businesses fail to support the City that they profit off of and benefit from, unlike, unfairly, the residents and businesses who happen to fall within the crazy crooked county controlled city boundary. It’s unfair. It’s destructive. It’s unhealthy. Lack of annexation financially and socially guts the city and the larger area. It’s wrong. People and businesses in the City already pay everything that “county” non-city residents pay, because City residents are County residents too. But the residents and businesses – the owners – of greater Morgantown who happen to live (barely) outside the City boundaries don’t pay to upkeep what they already benefit from, and what they use, and wear and tear on, and are an indivisible part of already.

Business interests cry “Wolf!” in saying that the City is acting unfairly to annex, when in fact it is these non-city “county” business interests who have a wolf-like unfair advantage over city businesses who already pay the B&O tax that helps the city be much more livable and prosperous than it would otherwise be.

Opposing annexation deprives both the greater Morgantown area and the entire County of the tremendous economic stimulus that would be created by improved City spending on area infrastructure, police, fire, parks, libraries, and social services. Annexation creates good jobs and improves wages, including among city workers. Opposing annexation reduces job growth and depresses wages, limits quality of life zoning, along with many other measures of quality of life, for the city and the county both.

Opposing annexation has for decades starved the public of badly needed improved funding, and has also for decades maintained the unjust status quo of unfair competition by non-city businesses who pay no B&O tax to the City nor to anyone at all, not even to the County or to the State. At least with City B&O taxes, the funds are largely spent locally, on local people, including local businesses, for local infrastructure and services that benefit everyone, businesses and business interests included.

Asking if someone is in in favor of “forced annexation” – especially given the crazy crooked borders between Morgantown and non-city Monongalia County – is like asking if someone is in favor of forced desegregation.

It’s fair annexation. Fair and just. A fair boundary adjustment.

Asking if someone is in favor of “forced annexation” – especially given the crazy crooked borders between Morgantown and non-city Monongalia County – is like asking if someone is in favor of forcing businesses to pay at least minimum wage.

It’s fair annexation. Fair and just. A fair boundary adjustment.

The sudden cries for direct participation – led mostly by the wealthy and their media and fellow travelers, claiming that anything else would be wrong – are comical because the business class has lost in the last dozen or so years some of its domination of local government (the City Council), and so now is trying to go around the government they for so long controlled to brainwash people once again into siding with the interests of wealth (they own the area media and also through advertising sustain and have plenty of power to control it, so they have a big megaphone). The wealthy would pay the vast majority of annexation taxes, after all. (Business and wealth taxes also pay for the majority of any levies, thus the frothing opposition to otherwise publicly popular levies, which are limited duration extra property taxes for public needs. Well, who owns most of the property of value that is taxed in city or county for any levy?: the wealthy, whether businesses or otherwise.) So the ideologues of wealth and their fellow travelers are trying to stop annexation by calling it unfair and calling for what they oppose to be decided outside of the City Council, which is a popular body close to the people and public needs that was recently yet again overwhelmingly elected and re-elected.

The City Council, unlike the County Commission, is much closer to neighborhoods, to communities, to people in general, literally, politically, socially, and economically, and is much more responsive to the people, not least given the mere two year terms. The wealthy interests of the area are desperately trying to protect their lapdogs on the County Commission from having to face a vote so plainly against the public of Morgantown and the City of Morgantown’s potential annexation requests, a vote that would also be plainly against the interests of the county – in fact against the entire region – as a whole. The wealthy owners of the area – and their fellow travelers – can take comfort in the fact that they apparently still almost totally dominate the mindset of the three County Commissioners, who have final say over the annexation decisions, and who therefore should all be swept out of office at the earliest opportunity, over the issue of annexation not least but not solely.

Good, strong, and popular governments build thriving communities, economies, and societies. The public should continue working to build good and strong government, and not allow it to be torn down, not allow it to be stopped from progressing, not allow it to continue to be cut off at the knees by those who would profiteer. The City Council is moving forward, while the County Commission too often goes backward, or nowhere fast.

The City of Morgantown can apparently also take credit for the people of the so-called “no man’s land” recently asking to be annexed into Star City. Morgantown’s annexation efforts seemingly functioned to get them moving. They should be in a city, long since. It doesn’t matter which one. Being in a city gives them much stronger representation and power in local government and allows them to be like their neighbors and fairly support the city infrastructure and services that benefit them and their area. City annexation makes the entire county stronger, more fair, and more prosperous too.

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