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Parkersburg eyes second B&O exemption

Proposal aimed at helping businesses hurt by COVID-19

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council will consider a second B&O tax exemption to help businesses struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building. Once that meeting concludes, they will reconvene as the Urban Renewal Authority to consider multiple property donations and purchase offers.

Council in June approved an exemption of the first $500 in business and occupation tax owed by restaurants and retail establishments, service businesses and those renting or leasing real property.

As of Monday, Mayor Tom Joyce said 837 filers had claimed the exemption, resulting in a savings of approximately $173,000.

“Obviously that’s a benefit to some of the small businesses that have been impacted the greatest,” he said. “I just think it makes sense for us to do everything we can to try to help our existing businesses get through these troubled times.”

The first exemption covered April, May and June, the final quarter of 2020, including when the state’s stay-at-home order was in full effect. Even as businesses have been allowed to reopen and some activities resume, Joyce noted there are still occupancy limits and additional expenses for cleaning and protective gear.

Jill Parsons, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, said the recovery process is ongoing. A second quarter of exemptions “is a wonderful opportunity to help the businesses … that may still be struggling,” she said.

The proposed exemption would cover the months of July, August and September. If passed, the ordinance would also extend the deadline for filing B&O taxes for that quarter by one month, to Nov 30.

Finance Director Eric Jiles said a budget revision covering the anticipated reduction in revenue from the exemption would be included with the carryover from fiscal 2020, which will probably come before council in October. The reduction for the first exemption was part of a revision made in anticipation of revenue decreases caused by the pandemic.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting also includes:

* A pair of resolutions authorizing Joyce to apply to the West Virginia Department of Transportation for grants of $100,000, each with a 20 percent local match, for the planning of safety and mobility enhancements for St. Marys and Dudley avenues and 13th and Lynn streets.

* The first reading of an ordinance creating a new Finance Department position — customer support analyst — to focus on assisting with delinquent accounts before they grow too large and a resolution reallocating money for the salary and benefits.

* A resolution for a budget revision to reallocate a portion of the vacant IT administrator position’s salary for third-party network support services.

* The first readings of ordinances abandoning a 160-by-60-foot unimproved portion of Kenner Street, an unimproved portion of Locust Street and portions of two nearby alleys and a 12-by-150-foot portion of Neal Street between Ninth and 10th avenues.

The URA agenda includes offers to purchase properties at 823 14th St., 1308 Dillaway St. and 1322 Oak St. from the authority and applications to donate 1113 Latrobe St., 4110 13th Ave. and a lot on Green Street Extension to it. They will also consider a resolution to acquire, demolish and/or rehabilitate 1409 20th St. by eminent domain, a contract to purchase dilapidated structures at 1120 and 1122 Lynn St. and a resolution to accept an offer on a URA-owned house at 514 13 1/2 St.

An update on the city’s proposed affordable housing initiative is also planned.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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