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Elkins Council to meet on sales tax revenue

ELKINS — Elkins City Council will hold a special call meeting later this month to discuss how revenue from the new 1 percent sales tax will be spent.

The decision to have the special call meeting was made Monday morning during a city Finance Committee meeting. The date for the special call city council meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

The topic had been on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, but Finance Committee chair and First Ward Councilman Bob Woolwine said officials had second thoughts.

“We thought, ‘Well, does the Finance Committee set priorities?… and then we’ll take it to council during a budget session and lay it all out,’ or do you just have a special meeting of council to talk about the strategic plan and setting priorities and adjusting things,” Woolwine said Monday. “So that’s what I’d like to recommend.”

“I think if you’re going to have a council meeting you should have a strategic plan discussion first just to save on the back-and-forth, because you’re at four meetings left to approve the budget, so it’s crunch time,” City Treasurer Tracy Judy said.

It was decided to have a special call Finance Committee meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in order to look at the five-year strategic plan council approved last year and “see what’s been accomplished and where we need to go” and what goals need funding, Finance Committee member and Second Ward Councilman Charlie Friddle said.

“We’ve made a commitment to the downtown retailers about adjusting the B&O (tax) as it relates to the income from the sales tax, so I think we need to keep that on the front burner as well,” Friddle added.

Information gained and priorities set during the special call Finance Committee meeting will be brought to the special call Elkins City Council meeting on Feb. 28, officials said.

The city has now received a combined total of $474,413.37 over the five-month period since the new sales tax went into effect.

City Council voted 7-3 to pass the new tax in December 2017, creating a 1 percent sales tax on businesses within the city limits, which became possible when the state approved the city’s application to amend the original Home Rule plan for Elkins.

In order to implement the new sales tax, Elkins needed to give the state six months’ lead time. The 1 percent sales tax went into effect July 1, 2018, with the advent of the new fiscal year.

City officials have repeatedly declined to earmark how the sales tax revenue will be spent.

Elkins City Council approved a five-year strategic plan for the city in September. The plan offers a list of projects, action items and target dates for accomplishing goals by 2023.

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