BUCKHANNON — The first reading for ordinance 433, establishing a municipal sales and use tax was delayed at the city council meeting Dec. 21.
City Attorney Tom O’Neill said he received a call from the Department of Revenue Dec. 18 and they said the first reading of the ordinance could not continue until after the Home Rule Board meets Jan. 16.
“We had developed a process by which we had planned on enacting this ordinance before the end of the year and submitting it to the tax department wording the ordinance in such a way that it would explicitly only take effect upon adoption of the of the amendment to the Home Rule plan by the municipal home rule board and the tax department has nixed that plan.”
O’Neill said they asked if they could continue with the first reading of the ordinance at the scheduled meeting and have the second reading after the Home Rule Board meeting in January and if they could continue to submit all the rest of the materials they have gathered to support the ordinance, but the Department of Revenue denied that request.
“We cannot take any action on this ordinance or on our application submission to them until after the Home Rule board meets on Jan. 16 and as we expect they will grant our amended application.”
Mayor David McCauley said the sales tax is necessary for completing projects throughout Buckhannon.
“Our general fund revenues have been stagnant for five years we've seen slight ebbing up, and then a slight up and down, but over the five year period, it's been a lot,” McCauley said. “In order to continue to advance our projects we need more revenue and it's the general fund that drives virtually all of those projects.”
The mayor said they want to use the tax for projects such as the Stockert Youth and Community Center, more paving, build more sidewalks and make improvements to the dog park.
“We need the extra revenue and our projections are that we will realize about one million dollars new revenue for the general
McCauley said they hoped to start collecting the tax at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
“We want to we want to try to position ourselves so that there's no doubt about the opportunity to start collecting the tax at the very beginning of the next fiscal year so that we could budget that money as we go through the February and March budgeting process,” McCauley said. “July 1 is just the best time to do it and I'd rather not do it in September or December.”
McCauley said he is fairly confident that their application will be approved.
“I think it's just a matter of time, but we remain hopeful and optimistic that we'll be able to affect this by July 1.”