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South Charleston Home Rule could mean tax changes

By By Marta Ree Tankersley
For the Gazette

The South Charleston City Council passed an ordinance authorizing the submission of their Municipal Home Rule plan application at a meeting Thursday after closing a public hearing on the matter in which there were no comments or questions.

Home rule is a type of municipal charter in which cities are granted certain rights of self-governance.

The application “is ready as we speak,” attorney Michael Moore said.

The ordinance must be presented to council in a second reading in two weeks. If approved, the application will be presented to the Municipal Home Rule Board for approval.

Moore said the “revenue-generating point” of the application would garner most interest by citizens.

“We are seeking to implement a 0.5 percent sales tax within the city,” he said. “But we also propose to reduce B&O taxes and utility taxes, so it’s a win-win; a mutual benefit for residents and the city.”

Council approved the second reading of three ordinances introduced at the April 17 meeting.

An ordinance to amend and readopt city code regarding salaries of fire fighters, police officers and city employees was passed. It essentially allocates a 2.5 percent pay raise for most city workers.

An ordinance granting a $10,000 pay increase for the next duly-elected mayor, effective July 1, 2015, was passed, and a rezoning ordinance to allow commercial development of property located near Evans Lumber on the corner of 2nd Avenue and D Street was passed.

Mayor Frank Mullens said he is not at liberty to reveal the identity of the business considering the location.

“I can say it’s a good, solid business,” Mullens said. “It’s already in Kanawha County and it might relocate here.”

Mullens also announced that city residents can expect to receive a survey letter from the United States Postal Service regarding the identification of their city of residence in their address.

This is in response to a request by the city to “change the default name of Charleston” to South Charleston, according to the letter from Teresa VanBibber, the manager of the USPS Appalachian District’s Address Management Systems.

All surveys must be returned by May 30 to be counted. If the request is approved, residents will be “required to change” the last line of their address to South Charleston.

“I’m skeptical that this will help with the taxation issue we experienced last fall,” Mullens said.

“The benefit of this change,” according to the letter, “is the recognition of actual municipality identity.”

In other action, council approved a $168,000 bid from Custom Office Furniture for furniture for the Club House at Little Creek Golf Course and set the Weberwood Fire Department open house for Saturday, May 24 from noon to 5 p.m.


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