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Parkersburg City Council discusses B&O tax, property abandonment

Parkersburg City Council met at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Municipal Building to discuss various ordinances on property and businesses. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council met Tuesday evening to discuss issues such as the Business and Occupation Tax, street legalization of ATVs and UTVS and city abandonment of several properties.

The council meeting opened with recognition of Alice Ansel, a Parkersburg resident who saved a family located on Lakeview Drive from a garage fire on Sept. 17.

According to Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews, Ansel was able to notify authorities, save the family and move their car away from the flames. The home only suffered flame damage on one side.

“On behalf of the city of Parkersburg I would like to recognize her,” Matthews said.

The entire city council chamber held a standing ovation for Ansel’s heroic efforts.

“I am so glad I came by the house at that time and I am so glad nobody was harmed,” Ansel said. “The family sent me flowers in the mail and everything.”

Council approved the second reading of an ordinance providing a break for city businesses on their Business and Occupation taxes. The vote was 8-0 for approval, with councilmember J.R. Carpenter abstaining due to his ownership of a business in downtown Parkersburg. The ordinance will exempt $500 in taxes for the third fiscal quarter for certain businesses, as well as extension of time for businesses to file.

The ordinance was proposed in response to the impact on business by the COVID-19 coronavirus and the steps taken to stop the spread of the virus.

It is the second temporary and limited exemption approved by council this year to provide relief to businesses. The one-time exemption is effective for July through September. The payment due date would be extended to the last day of November.

Council also considered an amendment to an ordinance that would authorize ATVS and UTVs to be driven on city streets. The first reading was approved in a committee meeting prior to the council meeting and is awaiting further sponsorship by the Public Works Committee.

Council additionally voted to abandon several unimproved right-of-ways and alleys so that property owners on both sides would absorb ownership or the state would handle improvement projects. These locations include a right-of-way at Kenner Street and Staunton Avenue, a right-of-way at Neal Street between Ninth and 10th avenues and a right-of-way at Sixth Street known as Locust Avenue.

The ordinances for the first two locations passed unanimously but there was brief discussion of the ordinance for Locust Avenue.

“It has been 12 years and the state has done nothing with this property and the owners around the property are tired of it,” said councilmember Sharon Kuhl.

Councilmember Eric Barber agreed and explained that the residents have already suffered loss of property value and do not want any assumed responsibility.

“The state has had years to rectify the situation and everybody has tried their hardest with this property and nothing has changed,” Barber said.

The council voted 7-2, with Kuhl and Barber opposed, to relinquish the property to the owners and allow the state to begin a drainage project at that location with hopes of improving the issues.

Other orders of business included:

∫ Unanimous approval of a resolution to move funds towards the Downtown Facade Loan Program and Market Street Crosswalk Enhancement Project.

∫ Unanimous passage of a new Customer Support Analyst for the Finance Department.

∫ Unanimous passage for re-enacting the Classification and Compensation Plan for civil service non-exempt positions.

∫ Unanimous passage of an ordinance creating and establishing West Virginia Land Use Agency pending sponsorship by Public Works Committee.

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