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Huntington Occupation Tax Repealed; House Refers Home Rule to Committee
Mayor Steve Williams told council, "this is living up to the assertion made during the campaign, that we would take action to repeal the tax." Stressing that legislators in Charleston are "watching" the city for the repeal, Williams said, "This does play into consideration of consideration of home rule legislation.”
The State Senate has already approved a modified home rule extension that expands the "pilot" cities to ten, including all those currently approved. Williams told HNN that the bill has been referred to committee, per Rep. Jim Morgan.
Two Republican Mayors Andy McKenzie (Wheeling) and Danny Jones (Charleston) have indicated interest in adopting a city sales tax that in turn reduces city business and occupation taxes. The plan is similar to the reform in Huntington. McKenzie , for instance, spoke of his city's interest in Wheeling's State of the City address.Prior to the vote Huntington City Council held a lengthy executive session Monday, March 11. Attorney client matters were cited, and based on work session conversations the session likely concerned efforts to settle the outstanding litigation related to the Occupation Tax passed by council but not implemented. Mayor Williams had previously expressed his outrage at a plaintiff proposal that Huntington pay its attorney fees. That attorney fee proposal has been taken off the table as the parties continue negotiations.
The executive session lasted about 40 minutes. It is privileged and not public record.
Council approved unanimously refinancing of Huntington Sanitary Board Bonds which decrease the interest rate resulting in an approximately $90,000 a year interest savings and about $330,000 during the remaining life of the bonds. In addition, the budget estimate for the trash/street fund and coal severance were approved.
Mark Bates, council chairman, complimented the Mayor for the ease of this years budget hearing process.