New Martinsville Council has repealed the controversial hike to the business and occupation (B&O) tax. The second reading and adoption was unanimously approved during their regular meeting Monday evening.
The Sept. 10 measure they repealed increased rates by 250 percent in several categories including manufacturing, retailers, wholesalers, contracting, amusement, services, rentals, and banking.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.
The measure brought about a firestorm of complaints from local business owners and managers.
In fact, a special council meeting was held Sept. 20. The approximately two-hour meeting was attended by nearly 50 businesspeople; most spoke on the issue. Their primary concerns were the amount of the increase, the fact that despite required legal advertisement most people in the city did not know about the proposed increase until it happened, the burden the increase puts on small businesses, how businesses will make up for the increase by likely cutting unnecessary expenses like donations to community groups and events; and how the increased cost of doing would likely close or move current businesses or discourage future business to locate in New Martinsville.
At the end of that meeting council voted unanimously to send the new rates for the city's B&O tax back to committee.
That action delayed implementation. The repeal of the increase was proposed to council by the committee and approved on first reading (Oct. 1) and second reading (Monday).
However, this does not mean the issue is over. The committee will revisit the issue and perhaps make another recommendation.
In response to the community's apparent lack of knowledge of the initial rate hike proposal, Shannon set up a community notification email of future city meetings and matters.
Anyone who wants to be on the list can email her at bshannon@newmartinsville. com. She said Monday that she has created the email group; so far less than 10 people have requested the city's email notifications.