Perhaps the third time is the charm; that's what the city of Westover is hoping for when the Monongalia County Commission votes on the annexation of the Morgantown Mall Wednesday.
It's the third time vote on annexation dating back to 2010, and it's the third different commission to vote on it as well.
One sticking point in the past has been the question of whether or not annexation benefits the entire county.
Last August, commissioner Eldon Callen voted against annexation saying, "I understand how this would benefit Westover but it doesn't benefit the county as a whole, that's how I made my decision."
But Westover Mayor Dave Johnson believes it does benefit the county as a whole.
Johnson said annexation would allow the city to finance its senior center which he said relies on $15,000 to $20,000 from the county each year. He also argues it would free up state and county law enforcement, which have jurisdiction on the mall.
Johnson argues the city deserves proper compensation for providing public services to the mall like the fire department, water, and sewage. He added that the annexation could also mean reducing business and occupation taxes as well as property taxes.
"We'd have to be able to lower the b-and-o rate. We' have to do that for all those who supported the city for so many years. Not only can we lower the b-and-o rates and prosper and survive as a city, we'll be able to lower the property taxes as well," he said.
Last August, a commission consisting of Eldon Callen, Bill Bartolo and Asel Kennedy denied the annexation 2-1, Bartolo being the lone pro-annexation commissioner. Kennedy has since been replaced with Tom Bloom.
Mayor Johnson said Bloom campaigned last spring saying he would have and open mind towards annexation.
The Morgantown mall has stood against annexation and denied comment.
Original Story: 7/24/13
The city of Westover is making another attempt to annex the Morgantown Mall.
The city made its third pitch to the Monongalia County Commission Wednesday.
Commission voted 2 to 1, agreeing that Westover's proposal meets the state's qualifications. Commission will now hold a public hearing before voting on it.
Last May, Westover made its second attempt at annexing the mall, which the county has repeatedly denied.
In August of 2012, the city's first annexation attempt was denied by the county. At that time, Commissioner Eldon Callen said the decision was "in the best interest of the county to take people who make business plans and put new taxation on them at this time when; I understand how this would benefit Westover but it doesn't benefit the county as a whole, that's how I made my decision."
Westover appealed that decision in January.
Westover has argued that the city needs taxes from the area to help provide civil services like police patrols and the fire department. After the annexation was denied in 2012, Westover Mayor Dave Johnson said annexing the mall would benefit the city.
"The tax revenue; it's two fold," said Johnson. "We have the property tax obviously with the municipal levy that we have and we'll be able to collect the privilege tax, which is a B and O tax. That will actually fund a lot of things for us and increase our revenue."
The mall has opposed annexation itself. Westover first tried annexing the mall in 2010.