September 29th, 2022
MUB Board of Directors Responds to City of Morgantown Ordinance
The Board of Directors for Morgantown Utility Board issues the following statement regarding the ordinance proposed by the City of Morgantown to fundamentally alter the manner in which MUB conducts its business.
MUB’s board believes that the ordinance is both unnecessary and contrary to the apolitical and autonomous nature of MUB as reflected in the original Ordinance that created MUB in 1987 and as further reflected in the documents on which our bondholders relied in purchasing our bonds over the years.
MUB’s Board of Directors is deeply disappointed that the proposed ordinance is purportedly designed to improve communications between MUB and the City but was drafted in secret with zero communication with, or input from, MUB. That fact in and of itself demonstrates that the goal is not better communication, but rather, to improperly and unnecessarily exercise more power over MUB.
Because MUB’s interests and the City’s interests do not always align, placing a member of City Council on MUB’s Board of Directors creates a clear conflict of interest for that councilperson since MUB Board Members owe a fiduciary duty to MUB and its ratepayers. Placing a City Council Member on MUB’s Board of Directors also is wholly contrary to MUB’s bond holder documents which represent and warrant that “MUB operates as an independent and autonomous agency of the City, funded entirely from the Gross Revenues of the Combined Utility System.” Those bond documents further state that “The municipal governmental structure in which MUB was created and continues to operate is designed to provide professional, apolitical, oversight and management of the Combined Utility System.”
The City’s intent to create veto power over all MUB projects that exceed $1 million is arbitrary and capricious. MUB has operated successfully and efficiently for 35 years without any such bureaucratic hurdle to overcome. Often times, water and sewer projects are time sensitive for public health and economic development reasons. Adding a lengthy ordinance process for project approval serves no purpose but may jeopardize public health and economic development.
Also concerning is the City’s apparent attempt to confiscate MUB’s real property. Currently, 62% of MUB’s water customers and 55% of MUB’s sewer customers reside outside of the City limits. As the result, when MUB acquires real property, the majority of the ratepayer funds used to acquire the real estate comes from ratepayers who live outside of the City. MUB’s Board of Directors believes the proposed Ordinance disenfranchises the ratepayers who live outside of the City limits. Obviously, this provision in no way, shape or form has any impact on improving communications between MUB and the City and simply acts as a form of annexation.
MUB’s Board of Directors strongly opposes the passage of the proposed Ordinance. However, it is MUB’s sincere hope that the City Council will withdraw the proposed Ordinance and engage in communications with MUB’s Board of Directors and senior management to cooperatively find reasonable solutions to the purported communication issues rather than continue with the antagonistic process created as the result of the proposed Ordinance.
September 29, 2022