Harpers Ferry’s mayor and town council on Monday did a first reading of an ordinance allowing the smallest Jefferson County municipality to apply for home rule.
Under home rule, Harpers Ferry would keep 95 percent of all sales taxes collected, about $55,000 based on sales today, a welcome addition to the town’s annual $800,000 operating budget.
While Harpers Ferry is the gateway into the region for thousands of visitors, the town is struggling financially.
A July 23 fire eradicated about 30 percent of the town’s income, revenue from gaming at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races is in steady decline, and neighboring Bolivar recently pulled out of an agreement of shared police services with Harpers Ferry.
West Virginia University assigned Chad Proudfoot, the university’s extension service’s community development division director to Harpers Ferry for three days a week since the July fire in the lower town destroyed three historic buildings, displaced 11 businesses and cost 45 people their jobs.
Proudfoot shepherded the council and Town Treasurer Kathryn Payne through the 24-page application, Hutton said.
“Chad was a godsend to this town,” he said. “WVU paid his salary, so he stayed here and helped us with the recovery.”