Council to vote on tax incentives Tuesday

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg City Council will vote Tuesday on the final readings of a pair of tax incentives designed to encourage rehabilitation of run-down housing.

The first reading of an ordinance extending the city’s vacant building business and occupation tax credit program to residential structures and reducing the minimum time of vacancy to qualify from two years to one passed 8-0 at council’s July 8 meeting. So did the first reading of legislation to create a similar program to encourage revitalization or construction of multi-family dwellings.

Both measures offer a rebate of up to 100 percent of a business’ B&O assessment for up to five years, with the total not to exceed the value of the work done.

The ordinances are up for final reading at Tuesday’s council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.

It’s part of an effort to address slum and blighted properties. Parkersburg Development Director Rickie Yeager said the city is looking at other ways to make rehabilitating dilapidated properties into viable housing more attractive.

“We’re going to start presenting that to developers and getting their feedback,” he said.

Yeager said there are a variety of such initiatives around the state.

“Nothing’s ever a one-size-fits-all, so things need to be tailored to what our specific needs are,” he said.

Tuesday’s agenda also includes the first reading of an ordinance to alter the structure of the city Tree Commission, which helps manage Parkersburg’s urban forest.

The ordinance would change those eligible to serve on the board from “residents of the city” to individuals who “have interest in enhancing the city’s urban tree canopy and contributing to City of Parkersburg beautification efforts.” It would also make the city arborist the eighth member of the board and allow the public works director and council representative to designate someone else to attend meetings on their behalf.

“We’ve had a pretty long stretch where we haven’t been able to get a quorum,” city planner John Whitmore said. “We’re always looking for more volunteers (to be members) as well.”

Whitmore said arborist Bob Russell is at most meetings anyway, as is building and grounds superintendent Steve Cox, who would likely be tapped to attend in place of Public Works Director Rick Lemley.

The once-a-month meetings are held at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, making it difficult for Lemley and council representatives to attend them, Whitmore said.

Anyone interested in serving on the commission can contact Whitmore at 304-424-8558 or