ELKINS, W.Va. – Officials with the City of Elkins announced on Friday that Elkins Common Council recently approved an ordinance to make changes to the city’s charter for the first time in more than a century.
A city charter is the establishing document of municipality and lays out the structure, authority and basic operating rules of the city government, according to the press release issued by city officials on Friday.
The release stated that the changes, which were made last week and approved by the council 9-1, will be the first since the adoption of the current charter in 1901.
Officials said the most significant changes approved move the cities biannual municipal election from March to June of odd-numbered years; stipulate five standing council committees; and codify processes for budget planning, presentation, and administration. Charter language has also been updated and simplified throughout the document, according tot he release.
Officials stated that some changes proposed in the draft charter could not be adopted via ordinance because of qualified objections entered by both city residents and several council members that remained unresolved by the time of council’s final vote approving this ordinance. Officials said the Council voted 6-4 to place sever objected-to sections before voters on the ballot of the March 2021 election.
City officials said one objected change, which would have implemented at-large election of council members, was discarded. The sections that council voted to place on the ballot would adopt what state code calls the Manager-Mayor plan of city government; affirm the city’s commitment to complying with state open-government laws; and extend the Elkins mayor’s term of office to four years, according to the release.
The release detailed that pending the outcome of the March 2021 election, for now Elkins retains a Mayor-Council plan of government and Elkins mayors continue to serve two-year terms. Regardless of whether voters approve the ballot item extending the mayor’s term to four years, the winner of next March’s mayoral contest will be elected to a two-year term, according to the release.
Officials said the city’s current charter was adopted in 1901, when Elkins absorbed the town of South Elkins. In its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, the Elkins council set itself the goals of reviewing and updating the charter and evaluating the feasibility of adopting a manager-based form of government. Starting in 2019, council retained and met multiple times with an attorney specializing in municipal law and charter changes to learn about opportunities for further improving and strengthening the Elkins City Charter.