New Martinsville City Council approved, by a five to one vote during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, to increase the city's business and occupation tax.
Councilwoman Doris Fannin cast the only dissenting vote.
The motion was made by Councilwoman Kay Goddard, the city's finance committee chairperson, and seconded by Councilman Steve Pallisco.
A developer was looking to possibly build a Holiday Inn?Express on this property along state Route 2 in New Martinsville. However, core drilling revealed the property had been backfilled and would cost too much to make suitable for their development. (Photo by Amy Witschey)
Pallisco then asked Recorder Bonnie Shannon to explain what action will follow their vote. She explained that this vote was the council confirming their intentions. Now she will print a legal notice, twice as required by law, and then council will hold a public meeting and the first and second readings of the amendment to the city code.
"It's too expensive to do it (publications) and not know that's what you're going with," explained Shannon.
The intended rates are 25 percent higher than current levels, with two exceptions. Limestone/sandstone that is quarried or mined and sand, gravel, etc. that are not quarried or mined now fall under two separate categories. The rates in those categories will be 50 cents per $100 of gross sales.
The other new rates, all per $100 of gross sales, are manufacturing, 15 cents; selling retailers, 25 cents; wholesalers, eight cents; contracting, $1; amusement, 25 cents; services, calling, other business, 50 cents; rentals, royalties, fees, otherwise, 50 cents; and banking, financial institutions, 50 cents.
There are exemptions to the tax of $25 per quarter, $8.34 per month, or 28 cents per day.
The expected time table is to hold the first reading on May 13 at 6 p.m. with the second reading and final approval on June 3 at 7:30 p.m. The rates would be effective July 1.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Steve Hunt spoke on behalf of the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce as their economic developer, Doug Patterson, and president, Don Riggenbach, were unable to attend.
He noted that for the past several months Patterson has worked with an out of town hotel builder, Wetzel County Commission, New Martinsville City Council, and New Martinsville city department heads to try to secure the building of a Holiday Inn Express in the city. The proposed location was on vacant property on state Route 2 across from Bob Evans.
"However, when core drillings were completed, it was discovered that the previous property owner backfilled this property which is in the flood plain," said Hunt from a prepared statement. "This property now contains three acres of unstable soil (decaying trees, concrete, and asphalt) at a depth of 15 feet.
"Therefore, this property has been deemed unsuitable for development without several hundreds of thousands of dollars in reclamation. Due to this development and other issues, the hotel builder has pulled out of this project at this location."
Hunt concluded, "What we are trying to understand is how this property owner was permitted to backfill this land within the flood plain with unstable soil."
While Hunt said he could not answer any questions about the situation, he said he hopes the developer will look for another local location.
"I want economic growth here. I think with everyone working together, we can develop a positive atmosphere for economic growth," said Hunt. He further added that no one at the chamber, individual or as an organization, would have benefitted directly from such a development. They were simply trying to facilitate the business location as a benefit to the community.
Patterson had told council at their April 1 meeting that he estimated the proposed hotel would have brought in $12,840 yearly to the city through B&O tax and $154,080 annually in hotel/motel tax, which is split between the city's parks and recreation department and the Wetzel County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, the $4 million of construction at the former B&O rate would have generated $32,000.
Finally, city council unanimously approved the laying of the levy for fiscal year 2013-2014. The rates remain the same as last year.