BRIDGEPORT - A lawsuit filed in Harrison County is challenging Bridgeport's attempt to participate in West Virginia's home rule experiment, claiming residents were not given enough time to voice their opinion on the plan.
The suit, filed by Diana L. Marra, also says Bridgeport's mayor has a potential conflict of interest.
Marra, through attorney William Ford III, is seeking to force Bridgeport to withdraw as one of the four cities that will be chosen to participate in the five-year experiment to give municipalities greater freedom from state controls.
The experiment passed legislation last year, which allowed 73 cities to apply for the project. The application deadline was January. Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling applied and a decision on their application is expected in June.
The experiment is set to end in July 2013.
The suit also says the council's Dec. 10 vote to be included in the program should be voided because of Bridgeport Mayor James Christies' private business interests. Christie is the chairman of the Charles Pointe Community Enhancement District and is an officer and stockholder in a company that promotes bond issues and lend-lease arrangements.
In the city's application, Bridgeport said they would like to overturn a 1985 state tax ruling that prevents them from entering into municipal projects with the Harrison County Board of Education. The city would also like to modify the state's tax increment financing law that prohibits Class III cities, populations between 2,000 and 10,000, from issuing and managing their own TIF projects.
In addition, Bridgeport would like to create a uniform $15 business license fee system. The current system includes 90 classifications with fees ranging from $0 to $2,500.