Parkersburg News and Sentinel. October 5, 2022.
Editorial: Bureaucracy: Charleston’s lack of urgency harms state
One would think West Virginia would have learned its lesson by now, but apparently we are not just slow spenders, we are slow learners when it comes to dealing with the federal government.
According to a late-September report by Mountain State Spotlight, as it closes the federally funded Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program, West Virginia has had to return as much as $86 million of the $350 million it received from Washington, D.C., which was intended for emergency rental assistance and paying utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Why? Because it was spent too slowly and the federal government decided the money would be better used if it was redistributed to other states.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Mountain State also has a reputation as a slow spender because bureaucrats had too hard a time spending federal money that was intended to help victims of more than one bout of flooding, and were scolded a time or two then, too. (A few of those folks are STILL awaiting completion of the help they were promised).
Federal officials reasonably asked West Virginia to spend the taxpayer dollars it was given in a timely manner. It didn’t. Again.
It would seem as though there should be SOMEONE in Charleston with a sense of urgency about better communicating with and cooperating with the federal government in a way that doesn’t give them the impression we can’t be trusted with taxpayer dollars. If nothing else, for goodness sake the next time large sums of federal money are headed our way, perhaps among the first steps in planning should be making sure we meet federal timing requirements.
If that is too much to ask, we certainly can’t blame federal agencies if they don’t trust us next time.
The Intelligencer. October 5, 2022.
Editorial: Tackling Dilapidated Properties in W.Va.
To most West Virginians, $9.2 million sounds like a lot of money, but when it is the starting point for grant funding to help communities remove abandoned and dilapidated properties, we must understand that is just a drop in the bucket if we are to truly address the problem.
Last week, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said that $9.2 million will be split among 21 Mountain State communities, with the announcement being made in one of them — Matoaka, in Mercer County.
“West Virginia is becoming the diamond in the rough, and people are noticing,” Gov. Jim Justice said.
“Let’s get rid of these buildings that are holding us back, join hands in moving our state in the right direction, and let’s start right here in Matoaka.”
In fact, money is headed to Wellsburg, Buckhannon, Elkins, Mannington, Weston, Thomas, Salem, Parsons, Montgomery, Nitro, Oak Hill, Hinton, Clendenin, Bluefield, Princeton, Parkersburg, St. Albans, Smithers, Logan County, McDowell County and Mercer County.
“We’re extremely excited about this program and feel it has the potential to transform communities across the state,” DEP Secretary Harold Ward said. “Removing these structures provides a critically needed health and safety component while clearing the way for new economic development and boosting tourism.”
But this is just the initial phase, as Ward suggested more funding could become available to target more communities. Good.
Along with it, we’d better address the reason our communities are littered with such structures to begin with. That means growing and diversifying our economy.
It is encouraging to see action of any kind on that front. We can only hope it continues.