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Tax hike ordinance discussed at meeting

June 08, 2007|by TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council Thursday received no input from the public during initial readings of a proposal to increase the business and occupation tax (B&O) to businesses operating within the city.

No discussion or public comments were made at the meeting where the council gave the first and second readings of the proposed changes.

A public hearing and the third and final reading is necessary before the ordinance change goes into effect. That is scheduled for the next council meeting on Thursday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m., said Councilman Gregg Wachtel.

Wachtel said the B&O tax increase is the maximum allowed by the state. He said the B&O tax has not been increased in five or six years.

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Officials said previously the projected B&O rate increases applied across eight gross sales categories (value manufactured goods, retailers & others, wholesalers & jobbers, contracting business, loan companies, banking and other financial business, service business or callings and rents, royalties, etc.) would generate about $1.5 million.

The city currently collects 97 cents of every $100 in gross sales of contract business, but that rate would increase to $2 if the increase is approved, officials said previously.

The rate increase for manufactured product businesses would go to 30 cents, up from 12 cents and the tax on banking institutions would increase by 31 cents to $1, officials said.

Wachtel said the council discussed the option of instituting a 1 percent municipal sales tax that was approved for municipalities by the West Virginia Legislature in lieu of the B&O tax. "No action was taken, not at this time," Wachtel said, and it may be revisited "a few years down the road."

Wachtel said the council also approved the first and second readings amending the ordinance that provides a community development fee that will be charged to developers to offset the cost of municipal services related to residential and business development.

He said the city needs to provide services and this fee will offset the cost. It is similar to an impact fee.

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