PARKERSBURG -Cleaning up city code, members of Parkersburg City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday repealing the solicitation of funds.
City Attorney Joe Santer, serving as acting mayor, said the repeal was cleaning up the code. He said the old code was "overly broad, subjective and out of date."
Earlier this month, the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city seeking records about citations to individuals or organizations for soliciting funds without a permit.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Council member Sharon Lynch, left, provides Parkersburg City Council with an update on a recent Municipal Planning Commission meeting.
The request stems from citations issued to panhandlers standing at intersections with handmade signs asking for help from passing motorists.
The FOIA requested the names of all members of the Board of Supervisors of Public Solicitation, which the city does not have. City officials think the ACLU is questioning the city's ordinance, which has been on the books since 1957.
The city can cite the solicitors if they don't have a permit. According to the ordinance, there is supposed to be a board of solicitors, which has not existed in a decade.
Santer said the city replaced the ordinance with new language passed in 2005.
"We replaced that ordinance and what we should have done (then) was repeal this and we didn't," he said.
Council voted 8-0 to repeal the code Tuesday. Council member Mike Reynolds was absent.
Mayor Bob Newell and City Clerk Connie Shaffer were out of town Tuesday, attending a National League of Cities conference.
Councilman John Rockhold asked Santer if officials needed to do anything else with the code to "minimize the situation."
Santer said no.
The city's ordinance prohibiting solicitors from standing at intersections, in streets or on rights of way remains in effect.
"Still, we have the same problem with enforcement," Santer said.
Some council members are counting the days until their term ends. Members also unanimously approved a resolution moving the December meetings to the 11th and 18th.
"Is there any way we can move those up another week?" asked out-going council member Brad Kimes.
"I'm with you," said Tom Joyce, whose term also expires at the end of the year. "I feel for you."