City Eyes B&O Tax On Drillers

WEIRTON – Weirton City Council will consider an ordinance amendment that would establish a 6-percent Business and Occupation Tax on all gas drilling within city limits.

The finance committee approved the measure for recommendation to City Council in a 2-1 vote Thursday, with 3rd Ward Councilman Fred Marsh abstaining. The proposed ordinance will go before the full council Monday.

City Manager Valerie Means said there is no drilling taking place within the city limits at this time, but because of the property available and the layout of the city, there is the potential.

Fifth Ward Councilman George Gaughenbaugh said he sees the ordinance amendment as a positive. He said there is going to be drilling in the area whether people want it to come or not. He said there is no reason for the city not to benefit from it.

According to 7th Ward Councilman Terry Weigel, West Virginia drilling sites are regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection. There are few cities that have a drilling site inside the city limits, it was noted.

When the drilling does come to the area, Weigel said there will be costs associated with it, such as additional training for police and firefighters as well as possible road damage because of increased traffic, and the city will need a revenue source to address those needs.

“Will this be a deterrent? Maybe, but if so, so be it,” Weigel said.

Means said she agrees and shares many of the same concerns expressed by Weigel. She said she believes the ordinance is a proactive stance on the issue. She said the ordinance will not affect businesses in the city at this time because there are no drilling sites. She said the action also will help the city be more prepared to address the potential concerns.

Means said the city also is looking into the unified development ordinance to see if any changes can be made there concerning setbacks and road bonds in connection with natural gas drilling activity, but the city currently has no such regulations.

Weirton City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers of the Weirton Municipal Building, 200 Municipal Plaza.