City approves budget amendment, passes animal cruelty law

A $1,325,000 budget amendment by the City of Morgantown reflects residential trash and recycling bills collected by the Morgantown Utility Board on behalf of Republic Services in the first quarter of the 2018-’19 fiscal year.
MUB began collections in May, setting up a single-payer system in which the city pays Republic directly, allowing the hauler to focus largely on collecting the trash while MUB focuses on bill collections.
The budget amendment, which city council recently passed on first reading, includes $1.3 million in customer bills and $25,000 in taxes tied to bill collections. The amendment also reflects a $1,275,000 payment from the city to Republic.
In other city news, an enhanced animal cruelty law is now in place that stipulates when and how a pet owner can tether an animal outdoors.The law defines specific weather conditions during which an animal cannot be tethered — below 32 degrees or in other winter conditions like wind, snow, sleet, or above 90 degrees in the summer.
It also defines what constitutes adequate shelter and gives law enforcement and animal control leeway to determine if an animal is in jeopardy regardless of temperature — for example, a dog tethered on pavement in direct sunlight.
The law also includes a list of circumstances under which an animal is considered “cruelly tethered,” including tethering between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., or, in the case of dogs, if the animal is a nursing female or less than six months old.
According to the law, if an animal is taken by an officer from a home, the officer will attempt to contact the owner and/or post a notice at the address. If ownership of the animal is in question, notice will be posted at the front door of the Monongalia County K-9 Adoption Center.
Among the information included in the posted notice will be a declaration that animals will be sold or destroyed if not claimed within five days of the posting date.
City council amended this section of the proposed law to remove a requirement that notice of an animal’s seizure be published. This was done at the direction of Dana Johnson, who heads the county’s wardens and adoption center. Johnson explained publication would take too long and put an already busy dog pound in a bad position. The five-day notice is in line with county law.
Additionally, the city will:
-Present a fourth Home Rule amendment to the pilot program’s oversight board. Council recently adopted changes to the city’s Home Rule plan that would allow the city to require an additional campaign finance report during municipal elections. Additionally, the city will ask that its board of zoning appeals be able to handle appeals tied to the development of a subdivision and land development ordinance.
-Continue to accept applications for a downtown facade improvement program implemented by the city and Main Street Morgantown, both of which put forward $20,000 for the initiative.
-Storefronts in the downtown business district are eligible for matching funds from $2,000 to $10,000. Applications are available through the Main Street website, downtownmorgantown.com.
Deadline for applications is Dec. 3.

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