By Bobby Bordelon\r\n\r\nThe Alderson Town Council approved a 1 percent Business and Inventory Tax (B&O) on gross revenue for businesses in town during the Thursday, April 8, meeting of council.\r\n\r\nMayor Travis Copenhaver explained that due to legislative changes, the town was operating at a deficit.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis is the tightest, nastiest budget I\u2019ve ever had to administer,\u201d Copenhaver said. \u201cI\u2019m ashamed of where we\u2019re at with what we\u2019re doing on the B&O Tax, but you all will remember it was the most backwards B&O Tax in West Virginia. \u2026 We can assess the fines and costs, but we lost the ability to attach drivers licenses, income tax, anything the state of West Virginia gives you. That cut our budget $37,000, over ten percent of what our operating budget was. ... That\u2019s a police officer, that\u2019s the reality of where we are right now.\u201d\r\n\r\nA few members of the business community voiced their concerns over what the tax could do to the local businesses already struggling during the past year of COVID-19.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe problem is, right now, [that] it\u2019s been the worst year ever,\u201d said Sarah Alderson of The Alderson Store. \u201cIt just seems like the timing is bad and there are people on the edge waiting, and maybe not opening again. It may seem like a straw, but it\u2019s the straw that broke the camel\u2019s back. It\u2019s enough, to me, that it\u2019ll affect the little guys. I would feel much better if it were a tiered one, like in Lewisburg, like in White Sulphur.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe ordinance would apply to those selling tangible goods and manufacturing, but does not include some service-as-goods businesses, such as healthcare providers.\r\n\r\n\u201cUpon every person engaging or continuing within the municipality in the business of selling any tangible property whatsoever, real or personal, including the sale of food in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, confectioneries and other public eating houses and wholesale sales from a rolling stockpile, except sales of any person engaging or continuing in the business of horticulture, agriculture or grazing, or selling stocks, bonds, or other evidence of indebtedness, there is hereby levied, and shall be collected, the tax shall be equal to ONE percent (1%) of the gross income of the business,\u201d reads the ordinance.\r\n\r\nCopenhaver acknowledged this could be difficult, but also noted they would have to cut services if more funding wasn\u2019t raised from somewhere.\r\n\r\n\u201cI full well feel your pain as you, as a business person, feel your pain,\u201d Copenhaver said. \u201c\u2026 I\u2019ll turn it around - I can\u2019t raise my prices. The municipality\u2019s prices are regulated by the public service commission. If I raise your water rate right now, it does not fix this black hole because [we manage three budgets], water, sewer, and the general fund. \u2026 I\u2019m asking you, if we don\u2019t do this, what do we do?\u201d\r\n\r\nThe tax was passed on 3-2 vote by council, with Councilmembers Tod Hanger and Charlie Lobban voting against.\r\n\r\nThis is not the only budget concern however - a typo on an excess levy authorization has left 2021 without a portion of funding for the streets department.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat it means is [we have to slash] a lot from streets to make this budget balanced,\u201d Copenhaver said. \u201c... What\u2019s on the election calendar for this time is what should have been, but there was a mistake made previously. The auditor\u2019s office didn\u2019t catch it, we didn\u2019t catch it, and we caught it this time in our budget for the auditor to approve.\u201d\r\n\r\nHowever, due to an upcoming street repair project, Copenhaver noted the effect this mistake could have had is diminished.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn of itself, nothing is changing on face value,\u201d Copenhaver said. \u201cBut  was missed, and that year is coming. \u2026 We\u2019ve got a project coming up, so we\u2019re going to tear the heck out of streets. We know the streets that need to be paved. We know I\u2019m not going to worry about paving those streets because there\u2019s no point if we\u2019re just going to tear them up anyway.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn other business:\r\n\r\n- The liquidation of a city vehicle, a Durango, was approved.\r\n\r\n- Zach Gain with Thrasher Engineering noted the possibility the town is working toward a new water treatment plant. Gain explained \u201cthere\u2019s a flood mitigation fund that\u2019s available for Greenbrier County and a few other towns. Region 4 came to the mayor and Thrasher to set up a meeting to discuss the use of those funds for some additional planning. \u2026 We\u2019ve got a budget of about $800,000 to do plant upgrades and with the monies available, we believe that it\u2019s a good time [to], instead of upgrading an old plant which in ten years might need additional upgrades, instead to build a brand new plant out of the floodplain that would have a 40 year life and [be] more favorable, from an operations standpoint.\u201d\r\n\r\n- An appointment to the library board was approved.\r\n\r\n- Mary Surbaugh with the Greenbrier Watershed Association spoke in favor of a Make It Shine day for Alderson, looking to provide supplies for volunteers cleaning up the city.