Powhatan income tax ordinance advances

POWHATAN POINT – An ordinance to increase the village income tax was given its first reading Tuesday night by Powhatan Point Village Council, which also looked briefly at leasing property for oil and gas revenues.

Mayor Mark McVey reported that after the Feb. 18 council session, he was in a meeting regarding village finances. He said he, at that time, directed Solicitor Charlie Bean to prepare an ordinance to increase the village income tax from three-quarters of a percent to 1 percent.

A motion by Councilman Brady Dierkes and unanimous vote of council allowed the ordinance to be read.

Upon the first reading, council voted 4-2 for its passage. Voting in the affirmative were councilmen Brady Dierkes, Jeff Haught, Rob Caldwell and Dave Walters. Casting negative votes were Jerry Binni and John Mitchell.

The increase would become effective upon the approval of all three readings.

According to the ordinance: “The income received by the village has for some time been inadequate to meet the needs of the village with respect to vital municipal services; and, the village council has explored every possible option of raising additional revenues to meet its financial obligations and provide critical services to residents; and, the income tax increase is necessary to protect the safety, health and welfare of the citizens of Powhatan Point.”

By law, village government may approve an income tax for up to 1 percent. Any income tax above 1 percent must have voter approval.

Council last looked at the possibility of the one-fourth-percent tax increase in August of 2010. At that time Councilman Dierkes said that officials are “going to have to look seriously at implementing an additional quarter-percent income tax.” He noted at that time that the cuts made by council, including shortened hours for employees, a 20 percent cut in wages for council members and mayor, and a spending and hiring freeze, were not doing the job. At that meeting, a motion by Dierkes to draft an ordinance was cut down on a 3-2 vote, with Mitchell and Binni casting the dissenting votes.

In 2010, the income tax would have generated about $60,000 annually. Of that amount, 75 percent would have gone into the general fund with 25 percent going into the street fund.

No figures were available Tuesday night as to what the quarter-percent would generate now.

Council, at its Feb. 18 meeting talked about the lack of funds. Councilman Binni said at that time that the village will have to make cost cuts “to the bare bone.”

A very brief passing of information between council members was held regarding a possible oil and gas lease. Mayor McVey said Solicitor Bean is writing a contract in the form of an ordinance. According to Councilman Dave Walters, the village has just over 32 acres with additional acreage in question. During discussion it was noted that Belmont County commissioners, having been asked about a five-acre piece of land about a year ago, had indicated the land could be turned over to the village.

McVey noted the diligence of councilmen Walters and Dierkes in working with the oil/gas project.

Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for March 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building.