New Martinsville City Council passed the second reading and adopted new rates for the city's business and occupation tax at their Sept. 10 meeting.
However, in the wake of the change, the city has heard concerns from businesses. Council has agreed to listen to those concerns at a special meeting to be held Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the city building. They will then review the changes.
The rates increased by 250 percent in several categories including manufacturing, retailers, wholesalers, contracting, amusement, services, rentals, and banking. Businesses such as gravel, sand, hotel occupancy, and utilities did not increase. Recorder Bonnie Shannon said those that did not change were already set at the highest level allowed by law.
The increased rates range from 15 cents to $2 per $100 gross sales, up from six to 80 cents per $100.
Shannon said the B&O tax currently brings in approximately $775,000 per year into the city's general fund. Council was hoping to increase that income by $300,000 per year with the change. She said an increase is needed to help cover the city's expenses. For instance, she said one standard purchase for the city recently doubled in price.
"We realize the need for an increase of revenue to maintain the services to our citizens," said a statement by the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce. "We understand that the proposal increases the B&O tax by 2.5 times for most businesses within the city limits. Again, while we accept the fact that the city may need an increase, the amount of this immediate increase is too excessive."
Shannon noted that the city's B&O tax has not increased since 1977.
The first reading of the revised ordinance was passed during a special meeting in April. The legal advertisement that was printed in the Wetzel Chronicle on Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 stated the rates will be effective July 1. A public hearing was held prior to the Oct. 10 council meeting with no one commenting on the matter.
The Chamber also said, "We also acknowledge that the City of New Martinsville met the minimum requirement to notify the public of the Sept. 10 second reading of the proposed increase of the B&O tax. But, meeting the minimum requirement resulted in no members of the business community being present at the meeting to discuss this increase."
In another matter, the city would like to clarify that the previously published list of streets to be paved included Northgate from state Route 2 to Riverview Drive. This portion is the entrance to Northgate, stopping at the private development's first street, Riverview Drive.
Finally, council set trick or treat for Oct. 30, 6-7 p.m. This will be the same night as Paden City and Sistersville.