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Town of Bath wants to keep B&O and 1% sales tax

March 01, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Bath Town Council members approved supporting an amendment to change the West Virginia law for the new 1 percent sales tax that is scheduled to go into effect July 1.

At last week's meeting, Councilman David Crosby, who chairs the town's finance committee, said he wants to see the law amended so the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax can stay in place and the 1 percent sales tax can be applied to those who pay sales tax.

If the town goes with the 1 percent sales tax, it would not be allowed to impose the B&O tax. By law, both cannot be imposed at the same time.

The town has a B&O tax on Allegheny Power, which yielded about $23,000 in revenue for the town last year. Crosby said the problem is that utilities such as Allegheny Power are exempt from the sales tax.

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Ordinance chairwoman Nancy Harvey said "sales tax must be the selling of tangible property in order to be taxed. Law, theology, medicine and utilities are exempt from this tax."

Mayor Susan Webster said the West Virginia Municipal League also supports the amendment change.

Gov. Joe Manchin has requested $20 million from the legislature to upgrade the state's computer system to handle the 1 percent sales tax, and Webster said, "we don't know how or when we can handle it."

Webster said she has been unable to find a sample ordinance imposing the 1 percent sales tax. Town Clerk Margie McCumbee said she has been polling other towns and "they are not going to touch it."

Webster said "all the B&O money would have to be let go" if the 1 percent sales tax is implemented.

Webster said 87 percent of West Virginia towns, including Bath, impose the B&O tax.

Webster said she will send a letter to the West Virginia Legislature supporting the amendment change. Webster said Michael Dougherty, the WVU financial planner who is helping the town with budgetary issues, has been looking into sales tax projection figures for the town.

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