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Council Should Reconsider City Service Fee
November 15, 2017

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We were unable to get the news, regarding New Martinsville City Council's proposed City Service fee for non-residents, in our paper last week. However, we did upload the story to our website and then share it on our Facebook page. Check out the feedback for yourself. Folks are upset.

We don't necessarily blame them.

In case you haven't read the story - it is in this week's paper - the proposed City Service fee will assess non-residents of New Martinsville, working for city businesses $1.75 per week. The first reading of this proposal was passed. The second reading is set to take place at New Martinsville's December council meeting.

We understand that times are tough for local municipalities. We reckon there isn't a local municipality that isn't pinching pennies. However, is the City Service fee the only solution?

Brenda Botizan, CPA, doesn't think so. In fact, she urged council to reconsider the City Service fee. She feels it will be an "accounting nightmare" and negatively affect low-income people who work part-time in the city.

Botizan had some good advice for council. She, along with business owner Dave Hunt, mentioned the town's Business and Occupation tax that was imposed several years ago. Botizan recommended an audit, to ensure businesses were paying their fair share of the tax. Botizan and Hunt sought clarification as to where the extra $1.245 million, that the tax brings in per year, goes.

In comparison, the City Service fee is expected to bring in $200,000 per year; however the amount is not even certain.

Keep in mind that although these non-residents might be at the mercy of city services, while working in the city, they also benefit the city as well. Those working hours, spent in the city, mean the purchase of goods and services at city businesses.

Botizan made a good point, mentioning part-time workers. The extra $1.75 can add up for the average Jane or Joe, struggling to make ends meet. Part-time work, elsewhere, might end up seeming more economical, more attractive. An individual might end up avoiding the town altogether.

The issue of a City Service fee is a complicated one. It merits careful examination. We propose the city respectfully listen to all views on the matter and perhaps table the second reading until all angles are thoroughly explored.

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