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Businesses get tax break from Charles Town Council

March 04, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town City Council members Monday night approved a tax break for downtown businesses to help offset the impact of a $5.5 million revitalization of the shopping district.

Council members also approved installation of a brick paver sidewalk and granite curbs at the main square in downtown, part of the project that initially was axed because there was not enough money for it.

The revitalization, an extensive project that involves installing new sidewalks, street lamps, trees and new water lines, is well under way.

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Large sections of streets have been shut down to allow construction crews to do the work.

To offset the disruption that has occurred to downtown businesses, council members agreed to reduce the business and occupation tax from 11 cents per $100 of revenue to 1 cent for retail businesses.

The rate for service businesses and banks will be reduced from 23 cents to 13 cents.

The tax break will be in effect from Jan. 1 to June 30, City Manager Jane Arnett said.

"This is an innovative way to help our city businesses," Mayor Randy Hilton said.

Council members were able to revive plans to put a brick paver sidewalk around the main intersection at George and Washington streets because of about $200,000 in additional funding that U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were able to secure for the revitalization project, Councilman Matt Ward said.

There was concern among some council members whether the money would funnel down to the city fast enough for the project.

Councilwoman Geraldine Willingham also said she is concerned about heavy trucks doing damage to the ornate sidewalks and granite curbs when they make turns through the intersection.

Construction crews will be ripping up the existing sidewalks on Washington Street from Samuel to West streets and replacing them with a new walkway that will be trimmed on the outside edge with decorative paver bricks.

The same work also will be done along George Street from the Old Opera House to Congress Street.

While some business owners agreed that the revitalization will mark a new beginning for the town, there was concern about how the project would affect business during the project.

One downtown business owner had said customers told her that they would not be coming downtown while the revitalization is being conducted.

As a result, the business owner said she planned to close her business and finish remodeling some upper floors of the business.

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