WEIRTON - Weirton City Council has passed the final reading of a business and occupation tax for the natural gas industry, saying the measure was needed to protect city residents and infrastructure.
The ordinance, adopted Tuesday by a 4-1 vote with one abstention, establishes a 6 percent tax on drilling companies.
"I'm not in favor of this," said Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple, who cast the only dissenting vote. "I don't think it's a good idea for us to be putting something in like this. It's anti-business, that's how it comes across."
At September's meeting, Mayor George Kondik had said the tax was intended as a "preventive measure" to ensure a funding mechanism was in place to fix problems heavy drilling trucks might cause to city streets, and deal with fire and safety issues and training peculiar to the natural gas industry.
Dalrymple, though, said a B&O tax should be a last resort, "and I don't feel we're there now. I don't feel this is the right way to go about it."
Ward 4 Councilman George Ash disagreed, however, saying he sees the legislation as being "proactive for residents and infrastructure."
"With all this equipment coming through our streets, somebody has to take care of" any damages, he said, adding the wear and tear on Weirton's aging infrastructure has to be taken into consideration. "I think it's important to protect what we have."
Dalrymple, though, said in other areas the drilling companies have been quick to repair damage.
"There has to be another way we can control what they do," he said. "This opens doors that don't need to be opened."
Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh abstained from the vote for business reasons, while Ward 1 Councilman Ron Jones was not present.
In other action, council renewed its annual $25,000 membership in the Business Development Corporation and agreed to sponsor the Marland Heights Community Association's application for state historic preservation grant funding for Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool.
The grant would help pay for a feasibility study, architectural renderings and core samplings to identify what must be done to preserve the historic pool, which dates to 1934.
Sponsoring the grant does not involve any cost to the city.
Community Association member Kathrine Kolanko told council several fundraising events are on tap, including an oldies dance Saturday from 6-9 p.m. featuring the Legends band as well as an appearance by former Weirton resident Harry Stock.
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