Finance Manager Dodie Arbogast’s comments during the Weston City Council meeting regarding confusion surrounding the implementation of Weston’s Municipal Fee Ordinance, followed by comments from a resident in response, spurred altercations during council’s regularly scheduled Monday meeting.
Arbogast explained that about eight businesses outside of Weston city limits implemented the 1 percent sales tax.
“I notified all of them, [with] some of them I talked to corporate headquarters,” Arbogast said, adding that she notified the State Tax Department so they could also inform those businesses.
Arbogast said that even if a business is situated outside city limits, but does business within the city—such as delivering food and goods—they have to charge the sales tax for those transactions. Arbogast said she tried to think of businesses outside of Weston, such as Lowe’s, to inform about the tax on delivery transactions in the city. She said some businesses didn’t know that about the tax.
She said one business representative said that with the way their register works, they can’t store two separate sales tax charges to separately manage city deliveries, so they had to go by the 7 percent all together to cover the tax. Arbogast said she informed them that they can’t do that, and gave them contact information for a representative at the tax office to take the matter up with.
“It’s not something you have a choice about,” Arbogast said.
Arbogast said that if anyone at all has a question as to whether or not they are in city limits and need to implement the tax, or how to implement the tax, they can call her office or the West Virginia Tax Department.
Arbogast said the state notified all businesses that pay or file taxes in the state of West Virginia that the cities of Weston and Wayne imposed the one percent tax, and the city of White Hall imposed a 0.5 percent tax, effective Jan. 1, but the notice, whether paper or electronic, did not say the businesses receiving it were required to impose the tax.
“It doesn’t tell them they have to charge the sales tax, it just says these towns now have a sales tax. Every business is responsible for being knowledgeable about the sales tax laws in the jurisdictions where they do business,” she said.
She also said it was not just Weston that has had the issue and she discovered that other cities experienced the same when first implementing their municipal tax.
Later in the meeting, when delegations who signed up prior to the meeting were permitted to speak, local man and business owner Randy Bohan addressed the topic. Bohan said he signed up to speak about an unrelated topic, but felt the need to briefly respond to her statements.
“In reference to the 1 percent [sales tax], the explanation about the mistakes, it’s totally disingenuous to portray your business people in this county and your business people in this city as being dumb and that naive that we would not know. We get those tax papers in the mail every month. They say the same thing... It’s nothing different than what we get every month; for 28 years I’ve gotten those things. I didn’t run out and have all my cash registers re-calibrated and spent thousands of dollars and collected money off of unsuspecting citizens.”
As Bohan was about to move onto his original topic, Arbogast interjected, saying she wanted to address his comments, but Bohan refused to be cut off, stating that he had his time and he was going to use his three minutes first. Weston City Council has implemented a limitation of three minutes for each delegation to speak. Arbogast made multiple attempts to interject, saying “excuse me,” but Bohan stood his ground on his refusal and continued onto his other topic.
Councilman Dr. John Wyllie interjected to make some comments in response, but Bohan continued talking.
“You complain about things all the time,” Wyllie said addressing Bohan.
While Bohan continued speaking simultaneously, Wyllie said he has thanked Bohan for his opinions and recalled that he has made fun of his hearing. Shortly after, Police Chief Josh Thomas notified Bohan that his time was up and he promptly stopped speaking.
“You have continued repetitively [your] complaints about this and this. I asked you one time to help me, to demonstrate something that you’re willing to do constructively for our community. A simple thing like getting out on the street and collecting funds for the fireworks display to help the fire department in this community.”
Wyllie alleged that Bohan responded that he was busy doing something that day.
“No, I said I wasn’t a beggar,” Bohan interjected.
“If you respect this community and you want to be respected in this community, then why don’t you demonstrate a willingness to roll up your sleeves and work as opposed to the continued complaints and insults that you spew out to the members and the people who are willing to offer their time and efforts. That’s what I’d like to see from you Mr. Bohan.”
Bohan responded to his comment.
“Can I ask you about the EDA [Economic Development Authority] meetings that I go to and the better business meetings that I go to and you all ask me to sit down and be quiet,” he said, but was told that his three minutes were up, to which he responded, “I don’t know that you’re the Sergeant at Arms here today, sir.”
When Arbogast responded, she said she has nothing to cover up and has no reason to lie or try to hide anything. She said it was “middle schoolish” for an adult to behave with such an accusatory manner.
Other citizens spoke during the open forum portion of the meeting. Local woman Linda Bush cited that she has lived in her residence since 1980, but only recently is experiencing problems with prowlers. She said in the last three months, she has had three prowlers, including one man who sat on her porch. When she turned the light on, he just stood there and continued to bend down as though he was getting ready to break in. She said she has had law enforcement by, but they always tell her they can’t arrest him. Police Chief Josh Thomas said he’ll check through city ordinances to see if police can issue him a citation, but they’d still only be able to cite him and release him.
Bush said she believes the growing opioid epidemic is the cause of the increased prowlers.
Another citizen, Sue Bush, asked why the Weston City Council minutes for last year reflected that Councilman Richard Flanigan only missed two meetings last year.
“I don’t think that’s correct,” she said, adding that she feels the people in Ward III are not getting the representation they deserve.
Sue Bush also said it was difficult to get hold of Flanigan by phone.
Flanigan admitted that he made a mistake regarding a meeting on a holiday in which Spelsberg couldn’t attend and his absence meant there was no quorum. He said the meeting was rescheduled.