MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) management and city officials held their first meeting since councilors proposed a revision to the ordinance governing MUB operations and the board. MUB Board Chairman JT Straface told board members the meeting took place on Tuesday and included Morgantown City Manager Kim Haws, Mayor Jenny Selin, MUB Chief Executive Mike McNulty and Straface.
“It was a somewhat productive meeting,” Straface said. “Trying to set limits on how the next meeting could take place and what the agenda could be.”
Straface added that there was a free exchange between all parties which helped each party understand how the miscommunication became a problem. This dialogue also culminated in a meeting between the full Morgantown City Council and administration with the MUB Board and management on Monday, October 17 at 5 p.m. in the county commission chambers.
“The purpose of the meeting is to try to understand the board’s communication gaps and we could resolve that,” Straface said.
Clarify the definition of “ordinary course of business” and better understand the purpose of board approval for projects valued over $1 million. Board members cited the cost of equipment and typical projects approaching the $1 million mark and the likelihood of inflation pushing even more projects above proposal approval level.
Straface said additional meetings of the two bodies are possible in the future. Some of these meetings include what Straface called a “facilitator.”
“It’s like teamwork, and it’s not MUB and the city council,” Straface said. “It’s MUB and the City Council and how can we find a way to become more of an ‘one entity’ type conversation.”
Straface expressed a desire to break down the communication process into deliverables for each party that could be clearly understood.
“It’s just a matter of understanding what information someone wants and how you’re going to present that information,” Straface said. “To me, solving the communication problem, or whatever you want to call it, is simple.”
Board vice-chair Barbara Parsons suggested a more comprehensive orientation process could create a more seamless transition when new board members are confirmed. She added that new board members should have a clearer understanding of MUB’s facilities and expansion over the past few years.
“It really pulls everything together and gets us to that point where we have to educate,” Parsons said. “So we can stop all of that early on if everyone agrees to a little more in-depth orientation and maybe some touring.”
Council Treasurer Tom Witt commended City Council members for endorsing a diverse group of council members who serve ratepayers and MUB facilities and assets. He cited the engineering experience of Straface, the economic development experience brought to the board by Erik Carlson, the public finance knowledge of Karen Kunz and the human resources experience of Barbara Parsons.
No member of the Morgantown city council or administration was present.