Proposed city sales tax clears initial hurdle

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon City Council on Thursday voted to approve an ordinance that would set in motion the process for adopting a 1 percent municipal sales tax.

Ordinance 431 authorizes the city to submit its amended home rule plan with the addition of the sales tax to the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board, city attorney Tom O’Neill explained.

“This is the ordinance that will permit the submission any time after 30 days from tonight, should it pass, of the city’s proposed amendment to the home rule plan to the Municipal Home Rule Board at their next meeting,” he said.

O’Neill said the next meeting of the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board had not yet set a date for their next meeting: however, he expects it will be scheduled for some time in early 2019.

According to the West Virginia Department of Revenue’s website, the home rule board last met in July 2018.

McCauley noted that per protocol, a public hearing on the adoption of the 1 percent sales tax amendment was held at the outset of Thursday night’s meeting.

“We know the anticipated revenue that this ordinance will generate for our general fund,” McCauley remarked. “Ladies and gentlemen, I would entertain a motion that we approve this ordinance.”

If imposed, the 1 percent sales tax is expected to generate about $1 million in new revenue city officials say the municipality desperately needs if it wants to continue thriving and providing quality services to its residents.

Skinner made a motion to approve the ordinance on second and final reading, which was seconded by Rylands.

According to state code, even if the city uses their home rule plan to enact a sales tax, it must modify – i.e. adjust or lower – the rate at which it levies business and occupation tax since Buckhannon also wishes to leave its B&O tax intact.

McCauley reminded council that the city’s revenue review committee – compromised of himself, Rylands, councilman David Thomas, finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins and her financial assistant, Barb Hinkle – proposed the city adjust the current B&O rate by lessening it by 5 cents per $100 of revenue across the board.

The mayor said council had previously adopted the committee’s recommendation.

Under Buckhannon’s current B&O tax law, businesses that bring in $1 million or under are entirely exempt from paying B&O tax.

However, currently a business that garners any amount between $1 million and $3.5 million annually pays 25 cents per every $100; however, the revenue review committee’s recommendation would lower that rate to 20 cents per every $100.

Likewise, businesses grossing more than $3.5 million currently pay 50 cents per every $100 made; under the new calculation, they would also see a 5-cent reduction, meaning they would pay 45 cents per every $100.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

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