(11/04/2018)
By Bob Weaver

During 2018, the Republican led legislature attempted to pass a reform of the business property tax, often referred to as the Inventory Tax.

That measure, along with changes to the rights of WV royalty owners, will likely top 2018 agenda items.

The passage of such legislation or through an amendment to the constitution will critically affect Calhoun County with an already strained budget.

Calhoun Commissioner Scottie "Chip" Westfall said The elimination of the “business property tax” otherwise referred to by the governor and some our state legislatures as the Inventory Tax will be devastating to the future budgets of Calhoun County.

"During my time as a county commissioner our revenue has decreased by roughly 30 percent. At the same time, money allocated by the state has decreased and operating costs such as jail bills, insurance, etc. have increased.

"The Republican legislature and governor have promised that school systems and counties would not lose money if the business tax is eliminated," Westfall said.

"However, they have been very vague and have not designated a funding source to replace the lost revenue from the inventory tax. One proposal is to replace the loss of revenue from the business tax with an increase in real estate taxes."

Calhoun is expected to receive over $1.2 million annually under the current system, with most of the money going to Calhoun Schools.

Westfall said if this happens, the owners of the new $94 million compressor station in Calhoun would pay zero dollars.

Calhoun is expected to receive over $1.2 million annually under the current system, with most of the money going to Calhoun Schools.

"Once again, if this amendment should pass, money that could be used for vital services and schools would go to out of state interests." he said.

Local House of Delegates candidate David Walker (D) said he would vote against any effort to eliminate business inventory tax that shifts the burden to the working men and women in the form of property tax or increase in sales tax.

State Senate candidate Denny Longwell (D) said he is opposed to such a major tax break, saying he believes most citizen do not want corporate rule.

While the Republicans (Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha and Ed Gaunch R-Kanawha) call the personal property tax on business inventory the biggest single hindrance to economic development and jobs to the state, candidate Longwell disagrees.

"Nelson and his Party are committed to reducing the tax while they should be considering an incremental raise in the tax, that is if they truly want to represent the citizens of our state." said Longwell.

He said counties would be harmed immensely, their budgets devastated, particularity schools.

"When our State ranks 44th out of 50 in education and our teachers, school service personnel and public employees are among the very lowest paid in the country, why would a Legislator even consider a cut to one of their funding resources?," Longwell asked.

Commissioner Westfall concluded the zero dollar revenue from the pipeline development would be devastating to Calhoun.


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