Administrator: B&O tax root of revenue downturn

Liz Beavers

KEYSER - The projected $90,000 decline in revenue in Keyser’s FY22 budget is attributed to the continuing downturn in Business and Occupation (B&O) tax revenue and a decrease in utility excise tax as well.

City administrator Jeff Broadwater presented the projected budget to the Keyser City Council for approval last week, telling the officials that the city had an estimated $90,000 less to work with.

This week, Broadwater told the News Tribune  that businesses are continuing to move out of the city limits and taking their tax dollars with them - resulting in much of the decrease.

In addition, there are fewer construction jobs in the city and that ‘has had a major impact on the B&O tax revenues,” he said.

Broadwater acknowledged that the city will receive “a welcome addition” once Tractor Supply moves its business inside the city limits, but the net revenue from that, in addition to any ongoing affects COVID-19 might have on existing city businesses, is hard to predict.

On the bright side, Broadwater said property taxes are slowly increasing, and he is projecting a $11,000 increase from FY21.

It is a trend that has continued for the past several years.

“Projected revenues are up approximately $25,000 since 2016, which is an average of about 1% a year,” he said.

Even with the uncertainty of revenues and how the ongoing pandemic will affect them, Broadwater says the city did not cut any outside contributions from the FY22 budget, including continuing to provide $5,000 for the Keyser-Mineral County Library.

“No cuts are planned or foreseen at this point,” he said.

The Keyser City Council did make headlines last week, however, when they approved the closure of the police department’s city dispatch, resulting in the elimination of three jobs.

Broadwater and mayor Damon Tillman said it was a necessary move as the city strives to adjust pay scales in an attempt to retain its officers.

“The city recognizes the value of law enforcement and public safety. In fact, this is a critical part of our success and a high priority for the mayor and council,” Broadwater said.

“The savings from the closure will provide the city with funds needed to make our law enforcement pay scale competitive with neighboring law enforcement agencies.”

Broadwater also says the City of Keyser is getting along with less than most other West Virginia municipalities its size.

Telling the News Tribune that he had compared Keyser’s budget with 11 other similar municipalities in the state, he said, “Keyser’s budget is nearly $2 million less than the next lowest municipality budget.

“The police department represents 55% of Keyser’s FY22 budget, which is 15% higher as a percentage than any of municipality of similar size. None of the 11 municipalities we reviewed had any funds targeted for their own dispatch or communications.”

The total amount of projected revenue for FY22 is $1,496,092.

A copy of the projected budget will appear in the legal advertisements in Saturday’s News Tribune.