KEYSER - Saying he would like to offer an incentive for new businesses to locate in Keyser, council member Eric Murphy has presented the outline of a plan offering a break on B&O taxes to the Keyser City Council.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Saying he would like to offer an incentive for new businesses to locate in Keyser, council member Eric Murphy has presented the outline of a plan offering a break on B&O taxes to the Keyser City Council.
“This plan is a pro-growth, pro-business amendment to the B&O tax,” he said during the Dec. 11 council meeting. “It is a way to put our best foot forward to help grow the city.”
Murphy actually presented two plans for his fellow council members to consider, explaining that “one is city-wide for all new business and one is just for the historic downtown district.”
The plans are as follows:
1. City-wide: Give a new or expanding business a B&O tax break for the first year, then follow up with a gradual increase, asking them to pay 25 percent from 12-15 months in business; 50 percent for 15-18 months in business; 75 percent for 18-24 months in business; and 100 percent for those in business 24 months and longer.
2. Downtown only: Offer a new business a 50 percent reduction in B&O tax after they are in operation for four years or longer; charge an existing business 50 percent of the normal tax during that time.
Mayor Damon Tillman told Murphy, however, eliminating the tax at this time would only hurt the city.
“I hear what you’re saying about putting our best food forward, but here’s the thing,” he said. “We want to get rid of the B&O tax … but the way we are now we can’t.
“That tax is how we operate,” he said, noting that the tax revenue is a large part of the city’s operating revenue.
Tillman also said he worries that giving a tax credit to new businesses would be unfair to those businesses who are currently in operation.
“If we give them a tax credit, how would that make the businesses who have been here feel?” he asked.
“I don’t want to portray that we’re forgetting them,” Murphy agreed, adding, however, “if this goes over well, we should be able in a year’s time to offer them something.”
Finance commissioner Mike Ryan said he feels the idea needs much more discussion before any decision is made.
“It’s not something we can vote on tonight,” he said, to which Murphy asked, “Why not? This is probably one of the simplest solutions we can offer.”
Saying a lot of other cities have similar plans in place, Murphy said, “We’re the ones remaining stagnant without it.”
Tillman said the city needed a more detailed plan to consider and suggested one be put together before the next meeting.”
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.