WEIRTON - The City of Weirton is one step closer to implementing a business and occupation tax on natural gas drilling companies.
Weirton City Council Monday passed the first reading of an ordinance creating the 6 percent tax on natural gas drilling operations in the city. Three council members - Ward 2 Councilman Chuck Wright, Ward 4 Councilman George Ash and Ward 5 Councilman George Gaughenbaugh - voted in favor of the tax. Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple was opposed while Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh abstained because of work conflicts.
Ward 1 Councilman Ronnie Jones and Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel were not in attendance.
PROCLAMATION — Mayor George Kondik presented a proclamation to representatives of the Mary H. Weir Public Library declaring September as National Literacy Month at Monday’s city council meeting. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Rik Rekowski, library director; Lynn Bish and Ed Giacchino, literacy tutors; Pam Makricosta, literacy coordinator; and Kondik. -- Jess Looman
"This taxation is a preventative measure to help protect the community," Mayor George Kondik explained. "Our concern is that drilling companies will come in and tear up our roads and we need to have a fund in place to fix them should that happen. We also need to be concerned with fire and safety issues regarding these sites and our fire personnel may have to take additional classes to be prepared in case an accident occurs."
There are no gas companies operating in the city currently, Kondik said.
"I have spoken with people from the Chevron company but beyond that we have not seen any other interest in our city in regards to drilling," he stated. "We do not want to discourage companies from moving to Weirton. We just want to make sure we're taking the right measures to protect the community."
"We also want to make residents aware that this tax will not be imposed on local business," he continued. "The tax will be solely implemented on the drilling companies."
A second reading will be held in October, Kondik noted.
Weirton resident John Good spoke before council regarding the creation of a health clinic at the future Weirton Elementary School.
"Why does the school district feel like this is needed?" he asked. "They kept it a big secret when the levy issue came up. We have a hospital and two clinics in our town and I believe that the idea of another healthcare entity coming into town is going to disrupt the system. The school needs to stay in the business of education, not healthcare."
The school board's plan calls for the nonprofit organization, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., which operates the Family Medical Care center in downtown Weirton, to run the facility. The school-based center would accept insurance plans and provide care on a sliding discount scale for the uninsured.
Kondik stated "there was no movement made in regards to the healthcare clinic."
Kondik then presented a proclamation to the Mary H. Weir Public Library stating that September is National Literacy Month.
"According to the National Institute for Literacy, Hancock County at 19 percent, has a better literacy rate than the national level," Rik Rekowski, library director, said. "The Mary H. Weir Public Library's Literacy and Lifelong Learning Program is recognized as one of the oldest literacy providers in the state. The program and its volunteers are recognized as leaders on the national, regional and state levels."
In other business, council:
Announced that trick or treat will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
Passed an ordinance to install two "Handicapped Parking Sunday's Only" signs at 3301 West Street.
Entered into a license agreement with W.Va. City Manager's Association for use of Qualtrics Survey Tool.
Passed a resolution to authorize revisions to the 2011-2012 fiscal year General Fund Budget and Coal Severance Budget.
Authorized an application and acceptance for the Community Participation Grant Program.
Passed a resolution selecting bank proposals for the city of Weirton Sewerage System Bond Anticipation Notes, Series 2012.
Passed a supplemental resolution providing as to the principal amount, date, maturity date, interest rate, interest and principal payment dates and other terms of the Sewerage System Bond Anticipation Notes, Series 2012A of the city of Weirton, authorizing and approving the sale and delivery of such notes to United Bank Inc.
Entered into an agreement for maintenance and support for LIVESCAN Station Ruggesized Software for the Weirton Police Department.