WHEELING — The city of Wheeling’s COVID-19 Small Retail Business B&O Tax Credit was approved this week, and city leaders are hopeful a new federal stimulus package will provide additional funds the city can use to help struggling local retailers.
During this week’s meeting of Wheeling City Council, council members unanimously approved the creation of the new one-time Business and Occupational tax rebate. The Small Retail Business B&O Tax Credit program is being offered to retail businesses in Wheeling with 25 or fewer employees.
Eligible businesses that participate in the program will receive a one-time credit in lieu of their regular B&O tax payment to the city for the current quarter. To be eligible for the rebate, interested local business owners must be current on their B&O payments. Those that become current during this quarter will still be eligible for the credit, officials noted.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said, applauding the Finance Committee of Council, Chairman Dave Palmer and others for spearheading this effort. “As I’ve mentioned before, we should not view this as the end of whatever assistance we may be providing. We are looking at other ways to help small businesses which are feeling the effects of the pandemic mostly right now.”
Elliott said city leaders are watching to see what the latest stimulus bill in Washington will offer once the political dust settles and lawmakers reach an agreement on the next round of COVID-related relief.
“Currently, drafts out there have some direct funding going from the federal government to cities to the extent that we’re in a position to get some of those direct funds,” Elliott said. “We will certainly look at ways we can give some back and sort of inject those funds right into the economy to help our small businesses right now.”
Federal COVID relief has helped municipalities like Wheeling remain in good financial footing through the pandemic. City leaders said they are hopeful that the latest bill will help municipalities cut through red tape and divert funds directly back to those in the community who need this kind of support.
“That’s something we’re closely monitoring,” the mayor said. “To the extent that we do get some of that funding, you can be sure we’re going to look at ways we can give some of that back. I know folks are really anxious to get the economy kick-started again.”
The city’s new B&O tax credit is a good start that should help local businesses see some relief, city officials said.
“I just want to thank everyone from the staff and members of council for their participation in this matter, and like the mayor spoke about, this is just the start of hopefully more assistance going forward,” Palmer said.
This week, members of the Finance Committee of Council did not hold a regular meeting as they usually do prior to the second city council meeting of the month. With the cancellation of the Finance Committee meeting until March, council members were not able to review the January financial report from the City Manager Robert Herron.
According to the city manager, he had initially planned to provide the proposed general fund budget for fiscal year 2021-22 to city council during the Finance Committee meeting, but figures for anticipated revenues are still being calculated. He anticipated getting council members those numbers electronically on Friday.
Herron noted that city officials have a budget work session tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to discuss the proposed 2021-22 general fund budget. The city’s next fiscal year budget is expected to be approved by city council on March 16, then submitted to the state auditor’s office for review.