The mayor and his town council in the little city of Whitehall (population 649), West Virginia recently came up with an ordinance that would raise municipal fees to fund fire, police and the construction of a public safety building with an ASTRONOMICAL rate hike on the town’s businesses.
The current rate for commercial property (or non-residential) is 3.5 cents per square foot but the new ordinance calls for raising the tax to 35 cents per square foot! That’s a 1000 per cent increase!!
Commercial property owners and businessmen came out in record numbers to city hall at the second reading of the ordinance to voice their opposition. Council chambers ran out of standing room. The doors were left open so that others could stand in the foyer. The town’s only three police officers were at the meeting just in case anyone got out of hand. The businessmen had to sign in if they wanted to voice their opinion and only had five minutes each. If they didn’t sign, they couldn’t speak.
One business owner cited that he currently paid $2,500 a year but the new tax hike would cost him $25,000 annually. Several merchants spoke their minds. One business person said they were already struggling to keep their doors open. Another said he and his wife would pack up and move to save their lifelong business.
Meanwhile, residents attending were elated that their fee would remain the same at $35.00 annually and were in favor of the ordinance. They didn’t mind over-taxing the businesses because it wasn’t coming out of their pockets. (Sounds like the same agenda that’s been coming out of Washington for years).
Finally one member of council had enough sense to suggest tabling the second reading of the ordinance. A committee was formed of three representatives from businesses, two from council and two residents to find a solution. The committee’s decision will be brought before the mayor and council for a vote. The mayor said council has the FINAL say.
Business people that own land and buildings in the town are not eligible to run for mayor or council. They must be a resident to qualify. (Another case of taxation without representation in America).
Maybe the mayor and town council have been watching too many rerun episodes of J. D. Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard television series.