LOGAN — The City of Logan’s financial status during the COVID-19 pandemic was discussed at length during the city council’s regular session Tuesday, May 12.
City accountant Jeff Vallet said business and occupation (B&O) taxes in the city “looked good” in April at $79,000, which is down from the usual $100,000. He projected a bigger downturn in collections for May due to the amount of businesses that have shuttered due to the crisis.
“It gives me an indication that we are going to see reduced collections on B&O from the businesses that have shut down,” Vallet said. “Thankfully, the rest seem to be paying what is due, but we are going to see a dip — even if everything starts today for May, we won’t see any B&O revenue from that until June. So the businesses that were shut down due to COVID-19, we’ll be seeing the effect of that in this current month.”
As far as garbage collections, Vallet said those were good in April, adding that he thinks more bills were being paid, thanks to stimulus checks. Vallet said the city’s current financial situation is the best it has been in about 20 years, thanks to the current mayor and council administration.
Mayor Serafino Nolletti said he hopes the city will be able to receive some of the funding given to West Virginia as part of federal aid to states. He noted that water and sewage collections are a concern because utilities have not been shut off during the pandemic.
“We’re all going to have to have a slice of that,” Nolletti said. “What I’m worried about, too, is our water and sewage collections ... they’re getting affected. We haven’t seen it yet here as far as our general with our water and sewage, but others are seeing it where they couldn’t cut anybody off from water during this, and people knew that. They knew if they didn’t pay their bill, they weren’t going to get cut off.”
Vallet said it’s not only that, but bills from the “big users” — such as Logan Regional Medical Center and the Fountain Place Mall — are likely to contribute to the dip as well, as certain restrictions have led them to use less water.
LRMC, for example, is operating at about 50% of where they were because people are going to the hospital only for essential emergencies.
Restaurants, he noted, have used less water because no one was in the restaurants for dishes to be washed or toilets to be flushed.
Nolletti said that during a mayoral conference call, Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler-Goodwin expressed concern that potential layoffs could happen in her city soon.
“It’s scary times for not just us, but for everybody in the whole country,” Nolletti said.