To start 2019 off strong, county representatives met with elected officials and received updates from various state agencies about a number of different bills and projects during Tucker County Day on Wednesday, January 16.
Each county in the state receives a day to visit the capitol. The Tucker County Chamber of Commerce led the day at the legislature.
Business owners, non-profits, elected officials, and community members made the trip down to have an opportunity to see what is happening at the state level.
Senate Bill 28 was a specific discussion topic that directly relates to the county. The bill, recently passed in the Senate and now in the House, would remove the limit on the county’s spending of hotel/motel occupancy tax money toward medical care and emergency services.
“That bill was drafted for both Tucker and Pocahontas because we don’t have a hospital,” Tucker County Development Authority Executive Director Steven Leyh said.
The Tucker County Convention Visitors Bureau and the County Commission split the hotel/motel tax revenue in half, which County Commission President Lowell Moore estimated is about $700,000 annually. Currently, the County Commission is allowed to use no more than $200,000 of their half on funding for the four fire departments and the EMS services in the county. This bill would eliminate that cap. With the current $200,000 cap, the four county fire departments split $100,000 and EMS receives the other $100,000.
The remaining funds the county receives from hotel/motel taxes typically go toward county parks and recreation. Reaching further past the $200,000 for medical and emergency services may mean the county must look for parks and recreation funding elsewhere.
“That’s a bill that I have asked for over the last couple of years,” Moore said. “I don’t know why they ever put that cap on there.”
Senate Bill 20 is another bill currently under review that carries direct implications for Tucker County. “This bill would change the tax rate of wind power projects from the current salvage rate to real property tax rates. “This would open them up to be fully taxed,” Leyh said. The county would receive that money from the increased tax rate, and thus receive less state aid and hopefully level out the education budget.
“Why should those wind mills be taxed at 5% of salvage value, and every other business gets taxed 60% of appraised value?” Moore said.
County representatives met with the state department of highways to discuss the increase in traffic in the county and Corridor H construction. Leyh said improvements in signage through Thomas down Rt. 219 to Parsons were discussed.
“We specifically talked about adding signage and reflectors and asked DOH to see if they could come out and do an assessment to help make it safer,” Leyh said.
The timeline of Corridor H construction from Elkins to Parsons was set at three to four years. “So we’re still moving in the right direction there,” Leyh said.
St. George Medical Clinic, Cortland Acres, and Tucker Community Foundation were present for the day. Canaan Valley Resort provided food during the evening reception, while Mountain State and Stumptown breweries provided beverages.