March 19, 2012
Proposed tax increase delays approval of St. Albans budget

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A proposed property tax increase delayed the approval of St. Albans' 2013 budget.

A motion passed to increase the Class One property tax levy to 12.5 percent. Currently, it sits at 12.14 percent.

A public hearing is scheduled for March 28 at 6 p.m. to address the proposed increase.

The increase would generate slightly more than $37,000 in additional revenue for the city. But Councilman Stephen Donelson said that as a taxpayer, he would like to see the budget tightened before taxes increase.

He suggested re-evaluating the funding the city provides to the Alban Arts and Conference Center.

"The theater, according to the lease, would be a self-sufficient, private organization within 18 months. That was three and a half years ago," Donelson said. "If it is not self-sufficient now, it never will be."

The city has provided approximately $38,000 to the Alban each year. Donelson suggested taking time to evaluate the Alban's financial situation and possibly directing the money elsewhere.

"When you look at Main Street now, what it is today, and what it was before the Alban came back and expanded everything -- we have received additional B&O taxes and upgraded the property -- that would offset" the money the city provides to the Alban, Councilwoman Helen Warren said.

Finance Chairman John Boles suggested giving the theater a year to get their finances in order, then re-evaluating the funding that the city provides.

The proposed budget was for $10.3 million, but it cannot be approved until after the public hearing for the levy increase.

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