Open letter to voters:
The two associations that represent elected county officials in West Virginia have voted to oppose Amendment 2, the “Property Tax Modernization Amendment placed before the voters this November 8.
The Boards of the West Virginia Association of Counties (WVACo) and the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia (CCAWV) oppose the amendment, citing: 1) our loss of authority over approximately $550 million of dedicated, constitutionally protected budget revenues, and handing that authority to the West Virginia Legislature; and 2) the fact that no certain, agreed-to plan between the House and Senate was presented that dedicates a revenue stream that solely backfills the $550 million to
counties, and instead is subject to the pressures and competing interests of a general revenue outlay.
Counties MUST have a protected, dedicated funding source that grows with economy, and no such plan exists today.
We, the West Virginia Association of Counties (WVACo) – county assessors, circuit clerks, county clerks, prosecutors and sheriffs – along with the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia (CCAWV) have taken our time to address our stance on Amendment 2 because we felt it important to give the legislature time to offer a plan as well as engage in talks with us about how they would implement new tax and spend policies if Amendment 2 should pass. This is monumental change to West Virginia tax policy, and the impact to local government is significant. And such change demands that everyone – all stakeholders involved – should all support Amendment 2 if a thorough review and comprehensive plan was first developed by all of us before placing Amendment 2 before the voters.
Unfortunately and after considerable time given, the legislature has not provided us with a sound plan that gives counties the needed assurances where we could support Amendment 2.
We applaud the legislature for looking at new ways, as this constitutionally protected funding of local government has been around a long time. But it was put there for a reason, during the Great Depression. And the economy today renews those same fears of uncertainty. Make no mistake, county governments support cutting taxes. We do support the Governor and the legislature cutting the personal income tax to provide immediate tax relief for the people, and cuts to promote business growth and jobs. We all want that. But as Amendment 2 potentially takes so much from our counties before a universally-accepted blueprint is created, and because the legislature is NOT in agreement between their two bodies as to how a new policy would work – AND that Governor Justice himself opposes Amendment 2 – we, at WVACo and the CCAWV, must oppose this measure.
While we pledge to always work with the legislature on bold, new ideas that seek to meet the new challenges in a global economy, we cannot give our support.
We respectfully ask the voters to reject Amendment 2.
Association of Counties
County Commissioners Association of WV