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.

Does MUB Know What It’s Doing?

Even by its own admissions of late, MUB does not know what it is doing. MUB never should have worked along Mississippi Street for the new reservoir pipeline it now may abandon there. MUB should never have decided to plow through witness trees and a main trail in White Park. MUB never should have forgotten (how?) that it no longer owns the land of White Park and must seek explicit city permission to dig and cut there.

Furthermore, MUB has yet to admit (and may never) that it should not have planned to dig its new pipeline through a couple old oil tank sites on the edge of the White Park reservoir, the water of which MUB says it intends to continue to use periodically for area drinking water. The hazardous waste underground in White Park should remain there undisturbed unless dug up specifically for remediation purposes, not for pipeline routes or anything else.

White Park is an active CERCLA (hazardous waste) site, underground. It sits across the Monongahela River from the Industrial Park which itself contains a Superfund (hazardous waste) site, plus gas fracking wells, and other industrial activity. Between all this permanent potential contamination is MUB’s drinking water intake in the river, supplying everyone in the Greater Morgantown, Monongalia County area. Why?

Why does MUB’s drinking water intake remain situated between the active CERCLA site of White Park and the Superfund site across the river of the Industrial Park with fracking and other industrial activity, potential contamination sources all? Why has MUB’s intake not long since been moved well up the Monongahela River? And why has the MUB reservoir been allowed to remain in White Park, a (barely underground) hazardous waste site, former oil storage depot and toxic waste dump, still partly unremediated? Why does MUB intend to continue using this reservoir in the hazardous waste site even after the new reservoir upstream is completed? Read the rest of this entry »

How Secure Is Morgantown Area Water?

An investigation of MUB is in order, or at least an independent review of MUB’s decision-making regarding area water supply, past, present and future.

MUB is spending about $50 million to build a new reservoir system, including placing part of the large pipe by digging into an “active” CERCLA (hazardous waste) site (White Park), which was once part of an oil tank storage depot that experienced massive spills never fully remediated. (Are there no federal inspections and permits required for CERCLA excavations?) MUB’s original and newly considered lines of dig all run next to the existing drinking water reservoir that MUB intends to continue to use in the CERCLA site. Furthermore, MUB either did not know or, worse, did not see as problematic that it had plotted its new pipeline to be dug through two former oil tank locations – not to mention through cherished witness trees and trail – in the active CERCLA site.

Furthermore, MUB has never moved its Mon River water intake away from either the CERCLA site or the cross-river Superfund site, or the Industrial Park, or the new gas fracking pads, also in the Industrial Park, which were fracked at the same time that cancerous bromide was tested for and found in the river, a disturbing correlation if not causation. (Bromide is cancerous when mixed with chlorine, in drinking water.)

So all-in-all, how safe and secure can Morgantown area water actually be considered to be? The river water intake siting is terrible. The threats around it are permanent. Why hasn’t the intake location long since been moved? Read the rest of this entry »

Highway Robbery in Monongalia County

These 15 posts, written between December 2012 and July 2013, give a strong sense of the local politics pushing against the City of Morgantown, and provide context for many other local public issues covered on this blog, and otherwise. What happened as detailed in these posts, regarding University Town Center and Scott’s Run, etc, is to some degree analogous to what continues to happen between Mylan Park and many neglected neighborhoods and areas whether in city or county. 

The public needs to organize and better know itself and the local issues to move forward. (The first and last posts were written in 2012 and 2014 but the rest fall into mainly the first half of 2013.)

WVU Thieving Again

MONONGALIA COUNTY COMMISSION THROWING THE STORE WIDE OPEN AND THEN DRIVING THE GET-AWAY CAR

Annex, Annex, Annex

HOW PATHETIC IS THE CITY OF MORGANTOWN?

The Great Swindle – Part One

THE BALLPARK TIF – OBLITERATING GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY LOCKING IN PUBLIC MONIES TO PRIVATE AND WEALTHY INTERESTS

The Great Swindle – Part Two

THE “BALLPARK TIF” AND HARTMAN RUN BRIDGE

The Ill Mice And The Fat Cats

THE HARTMAN RUN BRIDGE SCANDAL STEMS FROM THE REALITY THAT THE MORGANTOWN CITY COUNCIL AND THE MONONGALIA COUNTY COMMISSION ACT LIKE THEY ARE IN LOVE WITH BEING POOR

The Great Swindle – Part Three

RECOVERING SOME OF THE STOLEN LOOT FROM THE GREAT CON THAT IS THE BALLPARK TIF

The Great Swindle – Part Four

WHOSE BALLPARK IS IT?

Own It And Operate It Expansively – The TIF Ballpark And Other Parts Of The TIF District

THE “BALLPARK TIF” DISTRICT DOES NOT EXIST IN ISOLATION, THEREFORE FUNDS SHOULD BE USED, CONTROLLED, AND GENERATED IN THE TIF DISTRICT BY THE COUNTY, TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT AND BENEFIT AS WELL THE ENTIRE COUNTY AND REGIONAL PUBLIC

Name That Stadium!

EVERY SCANDAL DESERVES A FITTING NAME

The Great Swindle – Part Five

THE BIG LIE THAT IS THE “BALLPARK TIF” PLAN

Scotts Run Pillaged Yet Again – Part One

NOTHING LIKE PILLAGING THE FACE OF APPALACHIAN POVERTY

OR

SCOTTS RUN – WHAT’S LEFT TO PILLAGE? TURNS OUT: PLENTY

Scotts Run Pillaged Yet Again – Part Two

FORMERLY A COAL RICH AREA, SCOTTS RUN PSD RECENTLY BECAME A TIF PLAN GOLD MINE RIPE TO BE PLUNDERED

Scotts Run Pillaged – Part Three

HOW A FEW INDIVIDUALS CAN DESTROY A PUBLIC ENTITY

or

MONONGALIA COUNTY GOOD OL’ BOY NETWORK STRIKES AGAIN

or

HOW TO DESTROY A PUBLIC ENTITY IN FIVE EASY STEPS

Scotts Run Pillaged – Part Four

SCOTTS RUN PUBLIC SERVICE DISTRICT – A GOOD THING DESTROYED

 On Bullshit

“REMEMBER, KAY…” YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS HAVE BEEN ROBBED

 

 

Derelict WVU

WVU administration must forcefully ally with WVU faculty and students to act decisively to stop the campus carry bill: WVU should move to curtail the nationally renowned football and basketball seasons until loaded lethal weapons – killing machines – are banned from college classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, and all campus.

WVU admin possesses big weapons. It needs to use them to stop the insanity of loaded lethal weapons in classrooms.

It remains disgusting and derelict that the full force of WVU has not been summoned to quash the obscenity of loaded lethal weapons – killing machines – in classrooms.

WVU Vice President Alsop foolishly and wrongly publicly states that WVU is not united on this issue, and that it would be a “disaster” if WVU could not host NCAA sports events, which his exemptions in the bill are protecting, the “most sensitive” areas, as Alsop calls them. Yes, sensitive to the Athletic Department’s budget. The real disaster is putting killing machines in college classrooms. In dining halls. In residence halls. Anywhere on campus.

The leadership of WVU in regard to this bill has been atrocious, to put it mildly. It’s a shit show.

French great Victor Hugo once wrote that (the French equivalent of) “shit” is “the finest word in the French language.” It is also the finest word in the English language. And WVU admin is covered in it right now.

VP Alsop’s resignation should be demanded, as a matter of course. And not his alone. The lethargy, incompetence, and basic acquiescence of WVU admin remains appalling and inexcusable. It stands in stark contrast to the energy, the integrity, and the actions of the WVU faculty and students in opposing the legalization of loaded lethal weapons in classrooms and all across campus.

Top 10 reasons Morgantown should secede from West Virginia to form its own land, and West Virginia University should rename itself Allegheny Mountain University

by 
Victor Rip (special to NWCS)

10. This should encourage The Monongalia County Commission (current captor of Morgantown and WVU) to accurately rename itself as: The Cabal of Urban Sprawl.

9. The Monongalia County Commission could then vote to build a wall around Morgantown to keep the city folks out, but upon realizing that the insane borders zigzag seemingly forever and that no one else will pay for it, the miserly Commission would be forced to build a wall so short that people would hop right over it … on their way to and from Pennsylvania.

8. The trigger-happy Republicans in the West Virginia state government pushing guns onto West Virginia college campuses would be stopped cold, thus preventing faculty and student flight, outrageous expense, and deadly danger.

7. The roads would actually be well paved, unlike the awful “country roads” long celebrated but also long abandoned and destroyed by West Virginia and the One Percent which has the state by the throat, making it look like there is no real pride at all in the country roads of West Virginia.

6. The schools would no longer be nationally ranked in the cellar: only those in the “old country” would be.

5. The Monongalia County Commission, aka, The Cabal of Urban Sprawl, might at long last see that it needs to do what the adults do in Morgantown and WVU, that is, fund and oversee substantial library, park, wifi, and road systems, etc and so on (professional police, professional fire department, curbside recycling…) for the people.

4. The Cabal of Urban Sprawl would be forced to create and operate its own Utility Board to complain about and run into the ground however it sees fit.

3. WVU, in becoming the new AMU, Allegheny Mountain University, could get rid of its trigger-happy gun-blasting Mountaineer mascot for a more meaningful one, such as the Wood Bison, a great beast bigger than even the Plains Bison, the last few killed in West Virginia almost two centuries ago, blasted by guns.

2. With the population continuing to decline in West Virginia, choked by One Percent rule, and its lands pillaged so as to be increasingly uninhabitable, Morgantown and WVU might as well get the hell out too.

1. To change all the slogans: from “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!” to “No Longer Warped and Wacked-Out-Of-Our-White-Supremacist-Minds West Virginia!” / from “Wherever you may be, it’s a great day to be a Mountaineer” to “Wood Bison Forever! Remember! Forever!” / from “Coal is West Virginia!” to “Theft was West Virginia!” / from “Country Roads Take Me Home!” to “County Roads Wrecked Me Out!” / from “Mountain Mama!” to “Blasted Mama!”

7-11 is not heaven, West Virginia. Big business, including the pimps of corporate media, and their lackeys in the state government, continue to ruin the mountain state, profiteering and pillaging all the way, till the end. Surely things are long past the point of striking over. It’s time to secede from the state, Morgantown and WVU. This Top Ten is merely the tip of the blown up mountains of reasons to go, move forward, progress as a new land, in a new day.

(Don’t worry, ancient white-blood WV, Morgantown and WVU have some doozies you can keep. You’re welcome to them.)

In West Virginia the fabled country roads get no respect and are most useful for fleeing the state

It’s time for teachers and other school workers to strike for the roads too, and DOH worker pay and benefits. Buses, bus drivers, students, teachers, parents use the roads all the time of course. If they can. A key lesson that should have been learned from last year’s school strike, the only substantial way forward for education – and apparently for the rest of society in WV – is for educators to expand their push for improvement beyond education.

The rest of the population in all other areas needs to join in. Teacher pay should be higher, class sizes should be smaller, campuses should be better resourced etc. But/and so too should DOT/DOH workers pay be higher so enough workers can be found to fix the damn roads (for school buses not least, as for everyone). The same applies to other fields and situations. It’s clear that a general strike is needed every year, for the foreseeable future. Services and assistance for low income families should be much more advanced (including to improve the abilities of impoverished children at school). That means striking for better wage laws and work conditions and better health care for the population in general. Read the rest of this entry »