The Logan City Council heard from Logan Fire Chief Scott Beckett in regards to a recent presentation he and Mayor Nolletti had made before the West Virginia Legislature on behalf of the Firefighters and Police Officers pension funds.
Beckett said Senator Art Kirkendoll arranged for him to speak during the session. Beckett said he explained to the legislators that things had changed dramatically over the years and that the state no longer matched firemen or police officers pensions dollar-for-dollar the way they used to do.
“Many of them were surprised to find that out,” Beckett noted. “They seemed receptive to our plight even though all towns across the state are feeling the financial crunch right now.”
Beckett was referring to the downturn in taxes and coal severance money that has plagued the state government and most municipalities caused by massive layoffs in the coal industry in Appalachia. Last summer West Virginia Public Radio broadcast a feature story claiming that 7000 coal miners had been laid off in West Virginia and Kentucky over the past seven years. However there have been numerous layoffs since that time leading to a bleak financial time for the Mountain State.
Beckett also discussed some major plans for improvements to several City of Logan businesses.
“Holiday Inn and Walmart are doing some massive remodeling projects,” Beckett said Tuesday night. “It has been good dealing with some of these companies,” he added, noting that many of the businesses had management and contractors who were southerners who had a similar outlook on life to residents of Logan.
Beckett said inspections to the Tractor Supply were complete. Later in the meeting the council went into executive session reportedly to discuss dealings with the new business in town.
In other City of Logan news:
• Council discussed setting prices for copies for Freedom of Information Act requests at $2 per page for black and white copies and $3 for color copies. City Clerk Amber Miller Viars noted that the FOIA forms were now available online and that responses to requests to an FOIA now had to be made in both paper and online formats. The topic had come up at a recent meeting of the West Virginia Municipal League. The clerk said that each Department Head for the City will act as a spokesperson for that department.
• Council approved an adjustment on the Business and Occupation Tax taking it from 3.6 percent to 3 percent to bring it inline with state code. “We set the rate too high and we corrected it to what it should have been,” explained City Attorney Kendal Partlow who called the matter an oversight.
• Council approved payment of $42,000 in bills for the month of January. City Accountant Jeff Valet explained that many bills had not come in yet this month and that the city’s tipping fees at the dump were down.
• Street Commissioner Kevin Marcum said his department had put down 70 tons of salt over the course of the recent extreme winter storm and that he had 30 tons left. Marcum said he was thankful to the Logan Fire Department for assistance and help during the recent blizzard that dumped tons of snow all over the city. Marcum noted Viars had gotten his department a grant for an upcoming clean up project.
• Beckett said it was a busy January for his department with 80 calls for assistance as well as dealing with a disastrous snow storm.
• Logan Police Chief E.K. Harper said his agency was following up on some investigations into recent area breaking and entering crimes and that a couple of solid leads had come to light recently. “Other than that we have not been too busy except with the normal shoplifters at Walmart,” he added.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner.