By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Council Discusses Spring Cleanup, Paving Streets, New Sidewalks, & Water Line Project
With so many budgetary cuts at the state level in the offing, Shinnston City Council is preparing for what they anticipate to affect them at the city level as well.
Council first looked into imposing a 1% sales tax as opposed to an increase in B&O taxes. City Manager Amy Wilson said they opted for an ordinance to raise certain B&O (Business & Occupation) taxes. It was on the agenda five times and two public hearing were held with no comments from local business owners, Wilson noted. The ordinance was voted upon and passed at a special meeting of Shinnston City Council on January 30, 2017.
Mrs. Wilson commented, “The B&O Tax percentages will increase to the thresholds set by the State of West Virginia. They will vary for home businesses, retail and commercial; some will raise 20%, some 30% and some 50%. We have a chart to follow for these various increases; however, the increases will not be effective until July 1, 2017.”
City Council continues to address BAD (Brownfield, Abandoned, Dilapidated) Buildings. Demo is complete and has been filled in at property located at 585 Pike Street. Both demo and cleanup are complete on the downtown building (321 Pike Street) that collapsed several weeks ago. However, putting backfill in cannot be done until safety issues with the adjacent building are addressed.
“The City proceeded with work at 321 Pike Street after putting a lien against that property owner,” Mrs. Wilson explained. “We are trying to work with the owners of the adjacent property which was also affected by the collapse. They may have to use the 321 site to catch debris when their building comes down. The owner will first have to go through the asbestos testing procedure before that demo can begin though.”
Council voted to pursue legal action against Mr. Mossallati, owner of the Ashby Apartments, also located on Pike Street. Mrs. Wilson said the City’s attorney is filing a law suit to take immediate action.
“The alternatives are for the building owner to either secure the site or perhaps tear it down,” Wilson continued. “We are told the original structure is secure but additional pieces added later are in question. Pieces of the stairwell that was later added are falling off at the back end of the building, and this becomes a safety issue.”
At this week’s work session on Monday evening, Council began its discussion of Spring Cleanup that will include recycling, bulk pickup, free dump day, regular pickup, bag & tag waste removal, street cleaning, and neighborhood flower programs. A section of the City’s website (www.shinnstonwv.com) will be devoted to presenting this schedule.
“Although we may still witness some cold and bad weather before consistent Spring weather arrives, it was also time to talk in advance about the patching and paving of some of our streets. We are planning ahead,” said City Manager Amy Wilson.
“We also discussed our new sidewalks that will run from Lincoln High School to Shinnston Subway, and a new sidewalk that will begin at the corner of Pike & Charles Street and run to the Pike Street Car Wash on that side of the street. We have received a $500,000 grant for downtown sidewalks, and this will be another project we will be moving ahead with.”
The City’s water line project has been ongoing for years and it is almost ready to go to bid, Wilson added. “We need property owners to sign off on this before it can be bid out and we are nearing having 80% of those right of ways.”
She noted that the Public Works Department has been averaging about 30 leaks per month. “Some of them are not major leaks, but leaks nevertheless which have to be addressed. Many are coming from the Enterprise area and we are hopeful that the new water line project will alleviate many of these problems. This will be paid for through a USDA grant and the City earmarked levy funds for this years ago, so it is already funded and there will be no raise in rates for this to be taken care of,” she concluded.
Council meetings are open to the public. Meetings are held on the second and last Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers (43 Bridge Street in Shinnston).