It's a decision that could affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people in one local community. On Thursday, June 19 residents and business owners united to offer alternatives for Weirton City Council to consider regarding the B&O tax before they make what those people believe is a potentially detrimental decision.
Owner and CEO of Ocean-Air International, Rick Stark, said it's always disruptive to pick up a business and move it, but the B&O would force his business out of town. Stark is just one of many business owners who have considered moving their businesses out of Weirton if council passes the B&O tax.
Stark and other business owners have come up with alternatives they would like council to consider. The suggested alternatives include waiting to see if the city is approved for the Home Rule program, and if it is approved, to apply for a 1 percent municipal sales tax.
"That will generate a new income stream for the city which crosses all boundaries, and its a fair tax its not like all the tax burden is being thrown on one segment of the community," said Nick Latousakis, president of Wine and Beverage Merchants.
The Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce was careful to say they are not attacking city council, it's just asking them to consider alternatives before members make a decision that they believe would close businesses and prevent new businesses from coming in.
"This isn't about us against the city, and the city employees and their services, we do value them, we just differ on how they should fund those services," said Vince Azzarello, former Weirton City Manager.
The city is facing a $1.6 million shortfall in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, and this proposed ordinance by Councilman David Dalrymple would generate an estimated $1.7 million in additional revenue.
The proposed ordinance requires a second reading for it to pass. The next reading of the ordinance will be July 1. If city council votes in favor of it again, it will go into effect August 1.
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