Letters to the Editor
At the last meeting about the Snowshoe Resort Area District (RAD), two Commissioners mentioned that they have been receiving a number of calls about whether the RAD will affect the county’s hotel motel tax. There were no answers, so I did some research.
It seems like a county gets to charge a hotel tax unless the hotels are in a municipality. (WV Code §7-18-1c.)
Municipality means a town, village or city; recognized as a municipal corporation. (WV Code §8-1-2.)
A Resort Area District (RAD) is a public corporation. (WV Code §7-25-7b.)
I could not find what a public corporation is or how it is different from a municipal corporation, but it sounds like the RAD could get the hotel motel tax right from the start, and if it doesn’t, it would only take minor changes for them to get it later.
Why is this a big deal? This year’s hotel motel tax gave $75,000 to the Emergency Medical Services; $75,000 to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital; $50,000 to the Fire Association; $156,100 to the Libraries; $166,100 to Parks and Recreation; $103,400 to the Dramas, Fairs and Festivals; $28,200 to the Historic Landmarks Commission; $28,200 to the Arts Council and $5,000 to the Artisans’ Cooperative. For some of these, it is a big part of their budget; for the rest, I think it’s their whole budget. Without the hotel motel tax all of these great and important programs would get nothing.
Don’t take my word for it, ask a Commissioner. Ask them if they have looked in to this. Ask them how long the county will continue to receive the hotel motel tax. Ask them what stops a RAD from collecting the hotel tax themselves. The more people that ask the Commissioners, the more they will have to think about it.
The Obama administration took a giant step forward on clean energy last year when it ordered the Export-Import Bank to stop funding coal plants abroad. Unfortunately, the Senate is on the verge of undoing this progress by letting politics drive the Bank’s reauthorization this year.
The Senate is debating a provision from Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would allow the Bank to resume supporting the dirty energy projects that have decimated the environment and wrecked havoc on communities around the world.
Over the years, Ex-Im has permitted a coal plant in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, another in India whose emissions were equal to a fifth of all US coal plants combined, and in possibly the most egregious case, a massive natural gas project in Papua New Guinea that evaded safety regulations, triggering a fatal landslide that killed 27 people.
Since President Obama took office, in fact, the Bank has ramped up its spending on fossil fuels, with funding soaring nearly five-fold since 2009. Outlays for renewables have barely budged during that time.
The Obama administration’s new policy last year seemed to signal an end to this dark era. It seemed only natural that the administration, which had begun tightening the screws on coal plants in the US, would do the same abroad. Many other investment banks around the world had already taken similar actions, and it appeared the US was finally joining the global community in combating climate change.
Sadly, old habits die hard.
Mere weeks after the Ex-Im Bank issued its new rules, lawmakers were already calling for their rollback. In early 2014, House Republicans slipped a provision into their budget bill to allow fossil fuel funding in a wider group of developing nations, including India and Vietnam – site of the Bank’s most controversial projects.
The momentum has really picked up, though, with the recent debate over the Bank’s reauthorization. As the future of the Bank has become a hot topic on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are exploiting political divisions to push through their priorities.
Senator Manchin – a longtime ally of the coal industry – has led the charge. Faced with the prospect of a battle among Senate Democrats over the Bank’s reauthorization, Manchin has decided to make his support contingent on a return to the Bank’s coal-filled past. His proposal would prevent the Bank from enforcing new energy guidelines for projects that would “increase exports of goods and services from the United States or prevent the loss of jobs in the United States.”
The Manchin proposal is highly misleading. Projects undertaken by the Ex-Im Bank are done so with the sole purpose of increasing United States exports. Manchin’s proposal would effectively prevent the Bank from enforcing clean energy rules for any project.
If Manchin is successful at putting his imprint on the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, its support for dirty energy projects will be sanctioned once again and we will see many more environmental disasters like the ones in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Already, the Bank has hinted it may fund yet another massive coal plant in India.
It is disturbing that a routine vote such as this one could contain such dangerous consequences for the environment. It seems that lawmakers just cannot stop using the Ex-Im Bank to prop up the fossil fuel industry. If efforts like Manchin and Kirk’s continue, the role of the Ex-Im Bank must be seriously re-examined – for the long run.
At the broadband meeting at NRAO, I noted problems with the Internet to my home (slow fluctuates down to less than 0.02 Mbps, data packets lost, unable to access web-pages, unable to use Internet to live stream the local radio WVMR. Repeatedly, Frontier – the only Internet provider available – explained: 1) the Internet problem, my home is too far (copper deteriorates with distance). 2) the Internet line to my home is high demand. 3) copper is slower than fiber-optics (high speed fiber-optics is not in Frontier’s future plans for my area).
I was recently without telephone and Internet for many days. The problem was reported to be that a beaver chewed the line.
I asked for fiber-optics. It would be more productive to replace the defective, inefficient and old copper cable with a fiber-optic cable – increasing the speed, preventing losing data packets, and be more secure. In comparable repair elsewhere, what positive improvements or upgrades can you think of? When one of my tooth fillings (metal) needed replacing, it was replaced with porcelain. Why not upgrade our Internet to fiber-optics, too?
It was amazing how many Internet providers speaking at the broadband summit are 100 percent fiber-optics! Why not Frontier?
There were reports that laying fiber-optics cable is expensive. Isn’t laying copper cable expensive, too? One might wonder, does Frontier have an over abundance of technologically outdated copper cable? Is Frontier’s philosophy to force (profiting while discarding) copper onto Green Bank, Pocahontas County, and poorer areas? Some report copper is more expensive than fiber-optics.
It bothers me that a one cable policy was being voted on, yet possibly ignoring a problem. According to other Internet providers, Frontier is stymying potential Internet or telephone providers by overcharging providers who could extend fiber-optic cable to our homes. This one cable policy should mandate cables to be at cost (costs after given or grant money, not for profit) and equally accessible.
It is rumored that Frontier was given money which was used for overhead instead of going toward direct expenses – labor and materials. Shouldn’t the money allocation have been the other way around? Do I have these observations correct?
When Internet dollars were allocated to Pocahontas County, most of it should have gone to the National Radio Quiet Zone (protected, remote, and restricted areas may deserve the more dollars). Internet dollars should not have gone to cities or resorts or microwave – unhealthy to those exposed. The people and businesses in those places have better access to income and conveniences.
Fast Internet will help us to advance is a given! I feel appalled at the negative attitude toward us – the broadband summit and Internet providers talking of providing only minimum FCC standards. Consider the opposite – provide 10 Gbps or faster Internet and then see what happens – like what happened with rural electrification. Better yet, enable us to sell the high speed Internet to Snowshoe and others.
Diane Schou, PhD