NITRO, W.Va. -- The City of Nitro is moving forward with its application for the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Program, Councilman John Montgomery told City Council Tuesday.
In compliance with state law, a legal notice will appear in newspapers March 10 and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 10
Home Rule is a type of city charter meant to facilitate local control and minimize state intervention in municipal affairs. Cities must file by June 1, 2014.
One of the provisions within the application may help solve a longstanding problem faced by many municipalities, Mayor Dave Casebolt said.
"We requested to institute a law requiring attorneys involved with property transfers as well as estate settlements to contact the city and pay any outstanding, past due fees," he said. "It's a simple fix, but it may take time to collect. We also set up an online bill payment program this month."
The bill payment program is accessible at www.cityofnitro.org and has a 2.25 percent fee.
Currently the total accounts receivable on municipal fees exceeds $400,000, Treasurer John Young said.
"We'll have to write off $100,000 if we can't collect it," he said. "We've already put in place some collection strategies."
Council members discussed options for publishing the names of those whose accounts are past due and reporting to credit bureaus, but were cautioned by Attorney Johnnie Brown who said he will research the situation and report back.
In other business, the city received a notice to proceed with Phase 2 of the Streetscape project which provides $375,000 for work on sections of 21st Street. Casebolt said he expects to get a quote from Baker Engineering within two weeks.
"Once we get the bids and the plans drawn up, the state will have to approve everything. If we're lucky, they'll begin work this year," he said.
The mayor established committees to determine the "highest and best use" of the former A-1 Furniture Building and the empty lot at the corner of 21st Street and Second Avenue.
In new business, Nitro Development Authority Executive Director Rich Hively reported the $75,000 purchase of another building at the corner of 21st Street and Second Avenue. The NDA intends to utilize half the building for office space and rent the other half, he said.