Weirton City Council on Tuesday approved a new Business and Occupation tax on the natural gas industry, saying the measure is needed to protect residents and infrastructure.
The ordinance, which establishes a 6-percent tax on drilling companies, was adopted by a 4-1 vote with Councilman David Dalrymple against and Councilman Fred Marsh abstaining.
"I'm not in favor of this," said David Dalrymple. "I don't think it's a good idea for us to be putting something in like this. It's anti-business, that's how it comes across."
At September's meeting, Mayor George Kondik said the tax was intended as a "preventive measure" to ensure the availability of funding to deal with street damage that large trucks may cause as well as fire and safety issues and training peculiar to the natural gas industry.
Dalrymple said a B&O tax should be a last resort, "and I don't feel we're there now. I don't feel this is the right way to go about it."
Councilman George Ash disagreed, however, saying he sees the legislation as "proactive for residents and infrastructure."
"With all this equipment coming through our streets, somebody has to take care of" any damages, he said, adding that wear and tear on Weirton's aging infrastructure has to be taken into consideration. "I think it's important to protect what we have."
Dalrymple, though, said in other areas drilling companies have been quick to repair damage.
"There has to be another way we can control what they do," he said. "This opens doors that don't need to be opened."
Marsh abstained from the vote for business reasons, while Councilman Ronnie Jones was absent.
In other action, council renewed its annual $25,000 membership in the Business Development Corp. and agreed to sponsor the Marland Heights Community Association's application for state historic preservation grant funding for Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool.
The grant would help pay for a feasibility study, architectural renderings and core samplings to identify what must be done to preserve the historic pool, which dates to 1934.
Sponsoring the grant does not involve any cost to the city.
Community association member Kathrine Kolanko told council several fundraising events are on tap, including an oldies dance set from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Marland Heights Park.