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West Virginia Association of County Officials adopt Governor Justice’s bill on taxes as policy priority

WVACo in opposition to Amendment 2, citing loss of county government’s constitutional authority over revenue

WV Press Release Sharing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Association of County Officials (WVACo) Board of Directors this week met for their annual fall board meeting and voted as their main priority for the 2023 Legislative Session a bill that Governor Jim Justice has announced will be his first bill that he will send up to the West Virginia Legislature when it begins its work in January.

“WVACo strongly supports Governor Jim Justice’s plan to introduce and pass a bill that gives the people of West Virginia an immediate car tax rebate. We also support the Governor and the legislature passing a 10% income tax reduction for the people.”

Matt Harvey, Jefferson County Prosecutor and WVACo President, made clear the association’s reasoning. “County government faces an election in November, and specifically an Amendment on the ballot – Amendment 2 – which if passed would transfer to the Legislature control of several hundred million dollars of funding that is solely directed for local government,” Harvey explained. “We will be giving our constitutionally protected revenues away to the state. Counties cannot give that authority away.”

Amendment 2 – the “Property Tax Modernization Amendment,” – seeks to take the constitutional authority from county government that takes-in revenue of some business and personal property taxes, including motor vehicle taxes. That authority would transfer to the state legislature who could spend the funds as they so direct. The amount of money is estimated to be approximately $550 million, perhaps more.

“What this does is takes the tax monies people pay that goes toward funding county government, county services, and especially our schools,” said Agnes Queen, Lewis County Commissioner and President of the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia. “These taxes currently stay in your county. Amendment 2 would instead send those monies to Charleston to be spent in any manner the legislature sees fit. They go away.”

“These monies fund more than our schools and county government. And with Amendment 2 we worry that each of these additional groups will also now have to compete in Charleston for their deserved funds,” Queen continued.

The Board, meeting at Stonewall Resort on October 2-4, voted to support Governor Justice’s plan to pass legislation that would provide an immediate rebate of the car tax to the people. The car tax is estimated to be approximately $140 million. “The counties strongly support giving taxpayers their dollars back as soon as possible,” said Harvey. “WVACo does support the Governor and the legislature’s desire to provide tax cuts for the people, especially in these times of large budget surpluses. But it needs to be done in a sustainable manner that ensures stability of our vital local services when times get tough.” During their meeting, county officials discussed possible cuts to police, fire, senior services and other programs that each county provides its residents. Passage of Amendment 2 may harshly handicap those services.

WVACO acts on behalf of all elected officials at the county level and represents each of their distinct services in running county government operations. The offices are: assessors; circuit clerks; commissioners; county clerks; prosecutors and sheriffs.

“I urge people to understand what Amendment 2 is, how it will affect their local services and take decisions away from home and give them away to Charleston,” Harvey summed up.

For more information on WVACo and Amendment 2, go to their website: WVACO.org; their Facebook page, @WVACO; and their Twitter feed @Counties_of_WV.