KEYSER - Mayor Damon Tillman and city administrator Buck Eagle made a passionate plea during Wednesday’s Keyser City Council meeting for city residents to become involved in their hometown and for the Mineral County Commissioners and state legislators to work with the city to help move the county seat forward.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Mayor Damon Tillman and city administrator Buck Eagle made a passionate plea during Wednesday’s Keyser City Council meeting for city residents to become involved in their hometown and for the Mineral County Commissioners and state legislators to work with the city to help move the county seat forward.
“We need more people to be here at our city council meetings,” Tillman said to the mostly empty room, noting that in order for Keyser to grow there are several things that need to happen.
“We have to look at annexation,” Tillman said, saying that the “city dropped the ball” several years ago when they ran new water and sewer lines up to New Creek.
“They should have annexed the area then … they should have (taken city boundary lines) up to Pine Swamp Road.”
Tillman and Eagle have both said on numerous occasions that expanding the city’s boundaries - and thus increasing the property tax base - is the only way that the municipality will be able to grow.
Bringing up the city’s Business and Occupation (B&O) tax, which many residents have blamed for Keyser losing businesses or discouraging new businesses, Tillman said a larger tax base would enable the city to consider eliminating the tax altogether.
“If we annex, we could drop the B&O tax and go to a half percent sales tax. That’s as business-friendly as you can get,” he said.
He blamed the county’s elected officials for not backing the city’s quest for annexation.
“All we get from the county commissioners or from Del. Gary Howell is a reason they don’t want to do it,” he said. “They’re afraid their going to ruffle some feathers and lose an election.
“I’m not a politician,” he continued. “If I lose an election, so be it,” he said, explaining that he and the council members will do what they think is best for the city.
He questioned why neither the commissioners nor the delegate has attended a city council meeting.
“Why should I have to call them to come to one of our meetings?” he asked. “If I’m a delegate or a commissioner, I’d want to know what my city is doing. It’s my job.”
Eagle questioned why the people of Keyser don’t demand more from their county and state-level representatives.
“Why is everybody willing to sit back and say, ‘Poor us?’” he said during a previous council meeting. “We need to demand more.”
Eagle said previous inaction has resulted in important agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles leaving the county seat and locating in less populated areas.
“On what planet does the area of largest population not have the services?” he asked.
“We are sitting here and begging for our legislators to come in and hear us,” Tillman said.
“It is my hope and dream for the city that we can move forward and annex,” he said.