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Unexpected Hurricane Council News

The agenda of the Monday, April 3rd Hurricane City Council meeting included an unexpected item of new business, “Order and Notice of Levy Election.”

The item was unexpected because City of Hurricane voters held a Special Levy Election on January 25, 2020, in which voters approved annual revenue of $201,517 for the Street Department and $193,614 for the Police Department for fiscal years 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024 and 2024-2025.

The Order approved by the Hurricane Council on April 3 called for a Special Levy Election to be held in conjunction with Hurricane’s upcoming municipal election in June. What is going on? This was the question which I asked City Manager Andy Skidmore.

Skidmore said that the State Legislature passed a law last year which required all special levy elections to be held in conjunction with a regular primary or general election and that the election was necessary to change the levy expiration date such that it would comply with the new law.

The new law eliminates the expense of special elections. What are the details? WV Code §11-8-17 makes provision a city to hold a special election to extend an existing levy on the condition that the levy IS NOT up for renewal at the next regularly scheduled primary or general election.

An existing levy which expires on June 30, 2025, must be put to the voters in the 2024 primary or the 2024 general election. No primary or general election will be held in 2025. The 2024 primary or general election IS voter approval time for levies expiring on June 30, 2025.

Hurricane’s Special Levy expires on June 30, 2025 and is in sequence with the requirement that it be voted upon in 2024. Future special levies and levy renewals should be for the fiscal years 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2027-2028 and 2028-29. Four fiscal years, beginning with the 2025-2026 year, will result in a renewal election during primary and general election years.

§11-8-17 (d) states “In the event that a majority of the votes cast upon a question submitted pursuant to this section at any primary election be against the question, the question may again be submitted to the voters at the next succeeding general election.”

If I am correctly reading §11-8-17, no special election is needed or authorized by the new legislation. Hurricane Council may simply place the special levy renewal on the 2024 primary ballot. If the question receives a majority (not 60% as previous law required), the levy will be renewed. If it fails to receive approval in the primary, the measure may be placed upon the November ballot for a second chance.

§11-8-17 can be found in its entirety at https://code.wvlegislature.gov/11-8-17/#:~:text=%C2%A 711%2D8%2D17.,%2D 3%2D1%20et%20seq

In other business, the council approved the first readings of ordinances to annex a parcel owned by Teddy and Joseph Bailey and 1.84 acres owned by Jan Hoover. The Bailey property is located at 2530 Main Street and will be zoned R-2 (multiple occupancy housing). The Hoover property is on Sleepy Hollow Drive. The property will be zoned for small business use.

The two properties must receive council approval at a second reading and approval by the Putnam County Commission at a future date to come into city limits.

Council is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, to “Lay the Levy” for the upcoming fiscal year. The next regular council meeting is Monday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m.

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