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Mon Commission says it shall not support Amendment 2

MORGANTOWN — In an effort to walk the line between getting its point across and not telling voters what to do in the voting booth, the Monongalia County Commission passed a resolution on Wednesday stating it “shall not offer support for Amendment 2.”

Amendment 2 is one of four constitutional amendments that will go before West Virginia voters when early voting opens Oct. 26. If passed with a simple majority, it would give the state legislature the authority to change or eliminate personal property taxes.

If the legislature exercises that authority as is expected, it would shift control from local levying bodies to the state with no plan on how those funds — some 25-30% of the county’s property tax revenues — would be replaced in either the short- or long-term.

“We’re going to be Oliver, asking for more. Waiting in the food line asking the state to bestow upon us these funds that we rightfully have now,” Commissioner Jeff Arnett said.

Commissioner Sean Sikora referenced what is likely the amendment’s most effective and widely understood selling point, the potential elimination of taxes on personal autos.

“We don’t want to be telling the public they shouldn’t vote to reduce their property taxes, but that’s not what this particular vote does. It removes power from local control and transfers it to the legislature,” he said.

“We’re not against cutting taxes. In Mon County, we’ve lowered our rates for the past five years and we’re the only one in the state to have done that. We have the lowest county rate in the state … So removing this power from the three of us and giving it to 134 people in Charleston scares me.”

The resolution says the amendment would be “one of the most substantial changes to West Virginia’s Constitution in nearly 100 years,” and adds the state’s residents may well see new sales taxes, higher real property taxes or other fees as a result of the “significant corporate tax cuts contemplated by the legislature” if Amendment 2 is passed.

In other news from Wednesdays’ meeting, the commission approved $5,000 to provide free ridership on Mountain Line’s Don Knotts Route for the clients of Hazel’s House of Hope.

Commission President Tom Bloom said the county as well as the city of Morgantown and others were coming together to cover the $25,000 cost of the service.

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