Vienna votes yes on home rule

VIENNA – City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to submit the city’s application to West Virginia’s expanded home rule program and purchase property on 60th Street for a new municipal garage.

If accepted into the home rule program, Vienna officials propose cutting the business and occupation tax on retail and restaurant businesses by 20 percent and eliminating the B&O on manufacturing, reducing revenue by approximately $452,000. The city would also implement a 1 percent sales tax, raising an estimated $3.2 million.

Other provisions would give the city the power to enter dilapidated structures to maintain, repair or demolish them if the owner does not after notice has been given, issue on-the-spot citations for recurring exterior sanitation issues, lease or convey city property to nonprofit organizations without auction, sell certain city property via closed bids, speed up determination of historical significance for structures and set rules for wreckers operating in the city.

Council did not discuss the issue before voting, but Vienna resident Lawrence Wilson expressed his disapproval of the plan to implement a city sales tax and reduce only taxes paid by businesses.

“There’s no benefit to the community from being charged 1 percent more when they aren’t getting anything out of it,” he said.

After the meeting, Mayor Randy Rapp said the additional revenue would allow the city to do things like repairing more streets.

“The obvious benefit to the city is we will be able to do more projects to improve the infrastructure,” he said.

Councilman Paul Thornton said the sales tax will also be paid by the out-of-town shoppers who frequent Vienna’s businesses and create a need for the level of police and fire service the city provides.

Council voted 6-0 to approve the second reading of an ordinance to purchase 8.04 acres of property at 210 60th St., which includes the former Goldsmit-Black building for $500,000. The city plans to use the property to consolidate its three maintenance garages and as the site of a new headquarters for the city’s utilities.

Thornton said it should take 12 to 18 months to get everything set up there. At that time, the city would be able to sell a garage facility on 12th Street and two others on 30th Street.

Those sales “will probably pay what we’re investing in these properties by itself,” Councilman Bruce Rogers said.

Council members made no motion on an agenda item regarding the purchase of property at 506 29th St. It had been considered because it’s on the same street as the city building, but Thornton said it is not adjacent to any city property, unlike other land that has been purchased in recent years.

With no motion, the item will be removed from future agendas.

Mayor’s administrative assistant Linda Kern told council members about upcoming Vienna Family Fun Weekends, slated for June 20-21, July 11-12 and July 25-26 at Spencer Park. Each will consist of a concert on Friday night, kids’ activities Saturday morning and a free movie Saturday night.

The first weekend, coinciding with West Virginia Day, will feature Marietta High School’s Vocal Point a cappella group and the musical group Band of Brothers on Friday night, with the Beverly-Waterford Jazz Band performing on Saturday evening before a screening of “October Sky.” Popcorn and water will be provided.