A lane on State route 39 in Nicholas County appears to be permanently closed due to a slide. Such closures are also reported in other Southern WV Counties. In Fayette County, structural issues have closed three schools. Meanwhile, Kanawha County has a $650,000 budget shortfall, and in Jefferson County, it is over $250,000.
It sounds like WV is out of funds. However, Dan Lutz, the Economic Justice Chair for the WV Mountain Party, looked into an underreported aspect of the state’s revenue stream and discovered that our resources may be adequate.
Lutz found that total revenue from public utilities appears to be well below the combined property tax expected from that sector. This property consists of hundreds of thousands of right-of-way acres for utilities like gas, electric and railway companies, plus their physical assets.
Moreover, though a small number of these companies seem to be paying their fair share on taxable assets, most were paying next to nothing. And according to Jefferson County Tax Assessor Angie Banks, when the assessed value is too low to be worth the postage and computer time, such companies are not billed at all!
In an effort to confirm his findings, Dan called State tax officials. He was told they did not have the formula for assessing public utility property at hand, but “would get back to him”. Calling repeatedly, he continues to receive this response. Although no one from that office has ever gotten back to Lutz, former State Tax Commissioner Mike Caryl, has personally corroborated his suspicions.
Recently, around October 1, the WV State Tax Commission declared that total public utility property assessment has risen $500,000,000 since 2014. However, Mr. Lutz has not found any increase in individual utility assessments. This situation gets stranger daily. (see mountainpartywv.com)
Richwood, WV 26261