Elkins adjusts B&O tax structure

ELKINS — Elkins City Council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance Thursday to adjust the city’s business and occupation tax structure in several categories.

Ordinance No. 236 had received several public comments against it in recent weeks, as local business owners said they opposed any increases in B&O tax categories.

There were no public comments and no discussion on the issue during Thursday’s meeting before it was passed. The changes will go into effect July 1.

Some of the changes included an increase to the contracting B&O tax, which will go from $1 per $100 to $2; an increase in banking and other financial business tax from 61 cents per $100 to 75 cents; an increase in the category of “electric power all other” from $1.88 per $100 to $3; an increase for the natural gas companies B&O tax from $1.94 to $3; an increase for the electric power sales and demand tax from $2.75 per $100 to $4; and a decrease in the category for selling of tangible property, retailers, restaurants, etc. from 25 cents per $100 to 20 cents.

The adjustments are expected to raise between $130,000 and $140,000 in revenue and give the city the option to implement a 1 percent sales tax under its Home Rule status, according to previous reports.

A decision has not been made on the potential sales tax.

• Also on Thursday, Council members discussed plans Thursday to fill all three vacant seats on the Elkins Building Commission, a board that has not been needed in recent years.

City attorney Gerry Roberts said the commission members would be appointed by City Council to serve five-year terms, and they would be required to be city residents who are not city employees or elected officials.

“Currently you have no members,” Roberts told Council Thursday. “The last time it was active was 2006.”

She explained the Elkins Building Commission would be able to issue bonds that would allow for long-term financing of large building projects.

“I think it would be wise to have a current Building Commission,” she said, noting City Council is reviewing all vacancies on commissions and boards to get up to date.

Council members said they would encourage any interested city resident to submit a resume or contact the city for more information.

• City Council approved the first of two readings for Ordinance No. 238, an amendment which would allow for the municipal court clerk to serve as municipal court judge.

Roberts said the clerk would be required to meet the same training and education requirements as the judge, and if those requirements are met, the clerk would be able to serve as judge in case of illness or unexpected absence.

She noted the city once had two municipal court judges, and since there is now just one, it would be a good idea to allow the clerk to take training and sit in for the judge if necessary.

“You never know what could happen,” she said.

The Elkins Municipal Court hears cases regarding misdemeanor city ordinance and code violations, as well as parking and traffic violations. Judge Robert Jones is the city’s current municipal judge, and Michelle Metheny is the current municipal court clerk.

• Council members also heard from interim Elkins Police Chief J.C. Raffety, who said the closing date for police chief applicants was May 12, and approximately 12 candidates applied from West Virginia and throughout the country.

Raffety said the resumes and applications will be reviewed during a meeting Tuesday, and the ultimate goal is to have the new chief selected and in place by July 1.

• Council also heard a report from Katy McClane of the Elkins Tree Board. McClane said the board has been working to replace deteriorated tree boxes and dead trees, pruning trees as needed, updating plantings and doing a range of landscaping work in the city.

Mayor Van Broughton said he wanted to thank McClane and all the people involved with those efforts, as they are much appreciated