Buckhannon City Council approves 1 percent sales tax

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes City attorney Tom O’Neill discusses Ordinance 433 establishing a 1 percent municipal sales tax at this week’s Buckhannon City Council meeting. The ordinance passed on second and final reading.

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon City Council unanimously approved the final reading to establish a 1 percent municipal sales tax at this week’s meeting.

When the sales tax might begin being collected remains the question. Under Ordinance 433 approved Thursday the tax cannot begin being collected until Jan. 1, 2020.

However, city attorney Tom O’Neill told council Thursday Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, introduced Senate Bill 535 in the West Virginia Senate to allow the City of Buckhannon to begin collecting the sales tax July 1, 2019. Senate Bill 535 was referred to the Senate finance committee.

“I have guarded optimism that bill can make it out of the Senate,” he said.

The bill would then have to go to the House and go through the process.

Thursday marked the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session which does not leave much time for the bill to get through both chambers.

The second option the city has is to appeal to the tax commissioner’s office once all the material is submitted, O’Neill had said at a previous meeting.

No one spoke at a required public hearing held before the city council meeting.

O’Neill explained the basics of the ordinance.

“This ordinance implements a 1 percent municipal sales tax for all retail purchases within the city of Buckhannon for any transactions for which West Virginia sales tax may be collected,” he said. “If a transaction is exempt under state law, it is exempt from our municipal sales tax. We also reduce the rate of retail B&O by 5 cents per $100 and maintain the exemptions as they exist currently.”

The date of collection and reduction in the business and occupation tax will take effect Jan. 1, 2020 as of now.

“The revenues will be collected by the state and remitted to the City of Buckhannon on a quarterly basis,” he said. “The tax commissioner keeps a small percentage of the fees as a service fee (2 percent).”

The ordinance also provides for the placement of sales tax revenues into a special revenue fund which then can be used to service special revenue bonds to finance public improvements such as storm sewer and other civic improvements the council would so designate.”

Mayor David McCauley said, “This is one of those punctuation marks that will put us into a position where we can do a lot of good things.”

Councilman David Thomas moved to approve the ordinance which was seconded by councilman Robbie Skinner.

In other business, city council:

• Approved the resignation of Charla Reger from the Historic Landmarks Commission.

• Appointed Jane Godwin to the Historic Landmarks Commission.

• Appointed Greg Popovich to the Zoning Board of Appeals.