Decision OK; process moved ahead too fast
Fairmont City Council decided this week to allow a city employee to receive some city funding to help with the demolition of property adjoining his. The employee is tapping into a fund set up to help tear down blighted properties, to improve the appearance of neighborhoods and encourage responsible property owners who pay their taxes. This decision came with some controversy.
First, should a city employee be eligible to receive city funds? Not according to the city’s personnel policy. But several council members felt this is unfair, probably because city workers own property and pay taxes too. And if they are helping get rid of dilapidated structures, why not let them be eligible for incentives. We don’t have a problem with this reasoning. The grant funds to tackle blight are not a conflict of interest. City employment and the scourge of blight are quite separate issues.
We would tend to agree with Councilman Terry Anderson, however, when he objected to this decision being made with just three council members present. In other words, two council members just made a rather big, precedent-setting decision. Two out of five is 40 percent. That’s not really the democratic principle at work. We believe the council could easily have waited a few weeks to discuss this matter with the full council present. Not doing so does taint this decision, and more easily brings into play charges of favoritism.