MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom said the commission’s efforts to track down missing wine and liquor tax revenue and possibly alter how the taxes are collected has become somewhat surreal as the state appears to be simultaneously requesting and withholding data tied to those efforts.

According to West Virginia Code, 5 percent of the purchase price of retail liquor and wine sales, and wine sales from private clubs, is sent back to the county or municipality where the sale occurred.

The commission noted a dramatic decline in revenue over several years, including a six-month period during the 2013-’14 football season when the county received nothing. It’s estimated about $500,000 was diverted away from the county during that time.

Numerous requests for explanation were denied by the West Virginia Tax Office, which indicated it could share such data with a municipality, but not the county. Further, the tax office denied the county’s request to be named an affected party in the matter.

Fast forward to the current legislative session. The commission helped initiate a bill to simplify wine and liquor tax collection by eliminating a provision that gives municipalities the taxes from sales up to one mile beyond their boundaries.

As the bill began to move, lawmakers and state officials had questions for the county — many of the same questions the county has of the state.

“This is a catch-22. This is a situation where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Bloom said, explaining that a second bill was created in another effort to have the county recognized as an affected party in order to get the data.

Bloom said the commission is now hearing rumblings that the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) is objecting to the legislation.

“We’re requesting the information and the elimination of the one mile [provision],” Bloom said. “But after dealing with this and now hearing the ABBC does not want us to get the information, I start to wonder if they don’t want us to have that information because they know where that money went.”