City Manager Bill Hannabass

OAK HILL — A public hearing will be held in December on a proposal that will amend the city's home rule plan and pave the way for implementation of a one percent sales and use tax.

City council will stage a public hearing and a second reading on the one percent sales tax at the Dec. 13 city council meeting. It applies to purchases in the city including on sales on the internet, the latter which is "one of the driving factors in it (the sales tax)," said City Manager Bill Hannabass.

"B&O tax has historically been a large revenue stream for this municipality and all municipalities, a very small tax based on gross receipts," Hannabass said. It features a different rate, whether it applies to contractors, retail sales, service industry or other areas. "Oak Hill is about 23 percent less (in its tax rate) than just about any municipality in the state of West Virginia."

The highest rate is levied against contractors, Hannabass said. With them, the "state allows B&O tax rates at two percent, we charge 1.55 percent. In retail sales, the state allows up to 0.5 percent. We charge and collect 0.39 percent."

With the money generated from B&O taxes, "You're going to be limited in that situation to only your services and your brick and mortar within your municipalities," he said.

"Now, society has changed, and we all shop at Cabela's online, and Amazon.com and all that. So, the lady or gentleman that lives in Oak Hill and expects services of the city and buys most of their things online, that's fine, that's their choice. But you can see it's a diminishing revenue stream as society changes."

Pointing to other local municipalities already having a one percent sales tax in place, Hannabass said, "It's not something terribly unique to the City of Oak Hill. It is a one percent tax, and it's revenue that is needed for the expected services."

• The city is closer to hiring an economic development coordinator, a position first proposed by councilman David Perry during the spring.

Some résumés have been received, and some interviews have been completed. "We actually re-advertised for it," Hannabass said earlier this week. "We expect to make a hire within a month."

Résumés are still being accepted through the end of November. They may be submitted in person at City Hall (100 Kelly Avenue, Oak Hill) between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed from 12 to 1 p.m.) or may be mailed to: C/O City Manager, City of Oak Hill, PO Box 1245, Oak Hill, WV 25901.

The coordinator will be hired at a salary in the $40,000 to $50,000 range for the full-time post, said Hannabass. The individual hired must reside in city limits. They must also possess experience in the economic development field, and a bachelor's degree is preferred.

While economic development activities will be at the core of the work duties, Hannabass said the person hired will also address community development issues, some work with grants, and event planning, among other issues. "You're not going to have a pure economic development person."

• By unanimous vote of council, all city employees will receive two additional paid days off for Christmas this year, in addition to $500 additional pay.

That will apply to roughly 50 city employees, according to Hannabass.

The money will come from the city's general fund, and Hannabass said sufficient funds exist to handle the expenditures.

City employees work four 10-hour shifts now.

While necessary workers such as law enforcement and street crews will be available to work, city hall will be closed from Thursday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Dec. 27, with offices reopening on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The additional pay and the days off are both more than in past years, the city manager said.

• The city's annual Christmas parade will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Following the parade, at 2 p.m., Perry said a special ceremony will be held on the Lively Family Amphitheater stage (or council chambers in case of weather issues) to present a plaque to the family of Charles Tandy Jones, who originally donated to the city on Oct. 20, 1928 the land on which the current city hall building sits.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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