A West Virginia city in the Marcellus Shale has enacted a 6% business and occupation (B&O) tax on natural gas companies operating within the city limits, reportedly to raise revenue to fix roads and bridges that could be damaged by drilling there.

The city council of Weirton, WV — a municipality in the northern panhandle and wedged between Ohio to the west and Pennsylvania to the east — voted 4-1 to enact the B&O tax at its meeting on Oct. 9.

“With all this [drilling] equipment coming through our streets, somebody has to take care of [any damages],” Ward 4 Councilman George Ash told the Weirton Daily Times. “I think it’s important to protect what we have.”

The newspaper said Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple disagreed and cast the lone dissenting vote. “I’m not in favor of this,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to be putting something in like this. It’s anti-business; that’s how it comes across.”

Mark Muchow, deputy secretary of the West Virginia Department of Revenue, told NGI’s Shale Daily municipalities (towns and cities, not counties) may impose a B&O tax. With natural gas, that is collected as a gross receipts tax attributable to production at the wellhead.

“It’s a tax that’s been around forever,” Muchow said Tuesday. “The state used to have a B&O tax, but we’ve now converted it to a severance tax. Since 1959, municipalities have been allowed to impose a similar tax. The maximum rates that are in place are what the state rates used to be in 1959.”

According to Muchow, the maximum municipal rate for natural gas production is 6%. By comparison, the maximum rate is 1% for coal, 3% for non-quarried minerals and oil, 1.5% for quarried minerals and timber, and 2% for other natural resource products.

“Most municipalities in West Virginia tend to be small in size,” Muchow said. “I would say most natural resource production activities tend to be outside of city limits.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), Chesapeake Appalachia LLC is permitted for two wells in Weirton. The wells — Brownlee Land Ventures LP BRK 10H and 8H — were issued permits by the WVDEP on July 31 and Aug. 24, respectively. Both are targeting the Marcellus.

A spokesman for Chesapeake could not be reached for comment Tuesday.