HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Effective immediately, the use of electronic communication is prohibited during public meetings by Huntington City Council Members.
The resolution was passed Monday night.
It comes as an investigation by The Herald-Dispatch showed an attempt by others to lobby council members via text.
“Conversations were had about the violation of the open meeting laws, texting, the integrity of how we do business in the City of Huntington, and when it continued, I felt as Chair that we had to have a resolution in place,” said Mike Shockley.
Shockley says texts during meetings had no bearing on any of their decisions, and it’s the right thing to do.
“So when people are watching at home, they’re watching us do business, they know that the integrity is here, every council member has their own thoughts, their own opinions—they’ve done their own homework,” he said.
Huntington resident Carole Boster spoke in favor of the resolution.
“I would hope that before people go to their neighbor, to social media, or anybody else that they feel free to contact their councilperson,” she said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams gave his last pitch to council members for permanently repealing the Business and Occupation Tax for retail and restaurants.
The tax has been suspended since April of 2020.
Mayor Williams argued revenue from sales tax has far exceeded their expectations, balancing out any losses.
He also said it will help downtown businesses maintain a competitive edge.
“Frankly, I’m getting calls from other Mayors around the state and other businesses around the state saying ‘Congratulations on this proposal, how can we do this?’ And doggone I love being first,” said Williams.
The ordinance passed unanimously.
Huntington Communications Director Bryan Chambers said the tax was bringing in roughly $2 million annually from retail and restaurants.