WEST LOGAN, W.Va. — The Mayor and council members along with legal counsel discussed moving forward on collecting on several major outstanding debts owed to the town in the form of long unpaid business and occupation taxes in the municipality during their monthly meeting on March 13.
Liens and lawsuits are not out of the question if a few local businesses do not pay up on their accounts some of which are well over a year in arrears.
West Logan Town Clerk Mark Mareske discussed these and other money matters Monday night. Mareske noted that collections on city service fees (which includes garbage pick up and disposal services, police protection and other street department services) were down dramatically from last month. Town Attorney Steven Wolfe said the town might have to contact the Department of Natural Resources about people who have let their garbage build up instead of having it hauled off.
“Our collections were down,” Mareske said, explaining that the town also got hit with a $3,500 insurance premium in February and another bill for repairs to one of the street department vehicles. “Overall we are down about $10,000 dollars for the year,” he added.
Mareske noted this problem is compounded by a hand-full of local businesses that owe the town a whole lot of money on b&o taxes, some of which had not been paid in well over a year.
Mareske noted that one business (West Virginia Family Medical) owes for about a year and a half and that based on what it had paid in years past the amount it owes is probably well over $10,000 dollars. The Mountain Trail Inn is three years in arrears and an engineering firm in the town is also well over a year behind.
Mareske said that overall most of the local businesses had paid what they owed, albeit there are two smaller business that owe minor amounts. One of these probably owes the town about $115 dollars, he said, but noted the other one is two years behind.
Mareske noted that other towns face similar problems and that they have approached them in different ways. Recently the town of Chapmanville sent out a letter to delinquent debtors noting that it understood that the region had been hit hard economically due to dramatic setbacks in the coal industry and that the town was willing to work with people by offering them payment plans to make payments and catch up.
One of the debtors, which had come forward in the past to pay on what it owed claimed that it did not owe the town money because the actual engineering work it did not take place in the town. This excuse lead to much mirth considering the multi-story building is full of engineering equipment and insurance agencies across the county routinely pay b&o taxes to the town’s where they are located, even though their work is often done out of those offices and outside of those towns.
In the past the town’s police department handled calls from the business when it’s burglar alarms went off due to being activated by stray cats that got into the basement.
Last year the town took in $20,000 dollars in b&o taxes and if the three biggest debtors had paid what they owe that amount could possibly have been doubled.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer for Civitas Media and a retired reporter for The Logan Banner. He can be reached by calling 304-752-6950.