Elkins Council to discuss sales tax

ELKINS — While they do not plan to vote on the proposed measure during tonight’s meeting, the Elkins City Council will host a discussion regarding a possible 1 percent sales tax for city businesses.

A city official indicated this week the council members will not vote on the proposal tonight, but will conduct a conversation on the controversial topic, which caused contention when discussed at a City Council Revenue Committee meeting last month.

During the Sept. 22 Revenue Committee meeting, Fifth Ward Councilwoman Linda Vest made a motion to move the proposal to the full council. Second Ward Councilman and Revenue Committee Chairman Charles Friddle seconded the motion.

Elkins officials are looking to create a 1 percent sales tax on businesses, which is possible now that the state has approved the city’s application to amend the original Home Rule plan for Elkins.

A West Virginia Department of Revenue Municipal Home Rule Board meeting also will take place at 10:30 a.m. today in Elkins City Council Chambers; however, this session will not be related to the sales tax issue.

Annexation of Beverly Pike Five-lane businesses had been suggested as an alternative to creating a new sales tax, which is opposed by some downtown business owners.

At an Aug. 17 committee meeting, Friddle and Mayor Van T. Broughton agreed to meet with Wal-Mart corporate officials about possible annexation and report back.

Friddle said the manager of the Elkins Wal-Mart had not called him back as of the Sept. 22 meeting.

In order to implement a new sales tax, Elkins must give the state six months’ lead time, he said. The proposed sales tax would have to be voted on three times by City Council to become law.

During a previous meeting, Friddle noted that if the measure were to pass by Dec. 31, it could be put into affect in July, the start of the new fiscal year.

First Ward Councilman Robert Chenoweth said during the Sept. 22 meeting he was concerned about a sales tax hurting downtown businesses, which could possibly lose customers to stores on the Beverly Five-lane that are not within city limits. He again brought up the issue of annexing Five-lane businesses into the city.

During the same meeting, Fifth Ward Councilman Dave Parker disagreed, saying he didn’t think a new 1 percent sales tax would hurt downtown businesses.

If the new sales tax is created, Elkins city officials plan to eliminate the B&O manufacturing tax.

The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. tonight and is open to the public.