State ex rel. Plymale v. City of Huntington

In State ex rel. Plymale v. City of Huntington, 147 W. Va. 728, 131 S.E.2d 160 (1963), petitioners sought to force an election on two proposed ordinances brought forth under the voter initiative provisions of the city charter. The proposed ordinances would have had the effect of repealing two ordinances previously adopted by the city council imposing refuse removal and fire service fees. In contrast to the city charter provision, which required only that the initiative petition contain the signatures of ten-percent of the city's electorate, a statute, W. Va. Code 8-4-20 (1961) (presently codified, as amended, at W. Va. Code 8-13-13 (1971)), provided for a referendum election only in the event that at least thirty-percent of a municipality's eligible voters signed a protest petition objecting to such fees within 15 days of publication of notice. The Court in Plymale refused to order an election on the two proposed ordinances, holding that: there is an obvious inconsistency, if not conflict, between the pertinent charter provision and the general law. It is clearly the weight of authority, and it is expressly provided in our Constitution, that in the event of an inconsistency or conflict between a charter provision and a general law, the latter will prevail . . . . Therefore, since the general law, Code, 8-4-20 as amended, provides an exclusive remedy to prevent an ordinance from becoming effective, resort to that remedy alone must be had. In other words, the referendum contained in Code, 8-4-20, as amended, provides the only manner in which the action of council can be challenged. (147 W. Va. at 735, 131 S.E.2d at 164.)