It would seem that the Keyser City Council is moving in a positive direction by applying for inclusion in the state's Home Rule Program.

By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
It would seem that the Keyser City Council is moving in a positive direction by applying for inclusion in the state’s Home Rule Program.
Passed by the West Virginia Legislature earlier this year, the Home Rule Program gives a municipality the authority to do certain things which previously had been heavily regulated, or even forbidden, by state code.
The program started out as a pilot in a few of the state’s cities and proved successful, so the 2019 legislation opened it up to other municipalities in the state.
If approved for the program, Keyser city officials are looking at two specific ideas which they say will greatly help the city’s economic situation - implement a small sales tax on items purchased within the city, and as a result, be able to abolish the Business & Occupation tax.
For as long as I can remember I have heard various people say the B&O tax is part of what drives businesses outside the city’s limits.
The B&O tax is, however, a big chunk of the city’s revenue and without it, the city probably could not survive.
The current administration seems to understand, however, that the tax does place a burden on businesses (or at least they are listening to those who feel that way), and they are therefore advocating a sales tax, which passes the responsibility over to the consumer.
They have been throwing the number of 1 percent around during the discussion, which would not necessarily prove to be a pain in the consumer’s pocketbook.
It sounds like a good idea, and I believe it would work.
The council held the first reading of the ordinance approving application for the program on July 10, and will hold the second reading next week, on July 24.
If approved, it becomes effective immediately and then the city just has to wait to see if they are approved.
Other bits and pieces from local government:
 - Court costs for those contesting a ticket in Keyser will increase from $5 to $100, thanks to a recommendation made by Chief Tom Golden, as well as a motion made by council member William Zacot and seconded by Terry Liller.
The officials felt the low court cost was not sufficient as a deterrent.
 - Only organizations renting one of the city’s parks or the swimming pool may have their event advertised on the city’s new digital signboard on the back of the amphitheater, due to West Virginia Division of Highways regulations for paid advertising.
If the city would ask a fee for a group to advertise, they have to pay an annual fee to the state.
 - Recent vandalism on the basketball court at Brooks Park have prompted the city to ask the police department to keep a closer eye on the parks after hours.
The officials issued a reminder that the city’s parks close at dusk every day.
 - Council member and parks and recreation commissioner William Zacot noted that anyone planning to show a movie in one of the city’s parks must make sure they have purchased a license to do so.
 - Members of the Mineral County Board of Education will attend an upcoming session on the recently passed Education Bill, sponsored by the West Virginia School Board Association.
According to BOE member Mary Jane Baniak, the session will be broken up into committees, and she will attend the discussion on school finances, while board president Lara Courrier will attend the discussion on Local School Improvement Councils and Tom Denne will attend the session on charter schools.


Liz Beavers can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info.