Clarksburg council at odds over imposing sales tax

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Clarksburg City Council had a heated exchange Wednesday over the tabling of a proposed sales tax and initial passage of a reduction in some business and occupation taxes.

The fiery debate pitted Mayor Cathy Goings, Vice Mayor Jim Malfregeot and Councilman Zeke Lopez against Councilmen Ryan Kennedy and Chad Sigmon.

“If the 1 percent tax fails and the B&O (cuts) go through, you can kiss the Lowndes Hill repairs goodbye, Chestnut Street will never get done, the Sycamore Street bridge will be one lane forever, and we will have wasted a lot of money on the Robinson Grand Theater,” a visibly agitated Malfregeot said during a work session at City Hall.

The city administration is proposing council enact the sales tax and cut B&O under powers granted to Clarksburg through the state’s home rule program. Municipalities in the pilot program can impose a sales tax if they eliminate or cut B&O taxes in some categories.

A municipal sales tax would be in addition to the state sales tax, which is 6 percent.

Between enacting the sales tax and cutting B&O, the administration projects the city would raise $2.2 million for police and firefighter pensions, infrastructure improvements and economic development activities, according to the city’s home rule plan.

But during its Oct. 15 meeting, council tabled an ordinance to enact the sales tax while passing the first reading of a companion ordinance to cut B&O taxes in retail sales and manufacturing.

Continuing down that course would reduce the city’s coffers by $750,000 to $1 million a year…

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