Amendment 2 may negatively impact levy-funded services

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - There are 4 amendments on the ballot for West Virginians this November with 1 in particular drawing controversy.

It’s Amendment 2 and many people are still unsure of what exactly it does.

5′s John Blashke helps break it down and tells us what Harrison County officials are saying about it.

Amendment 2 has the potential to significantly alter property taxes in West Virginia. The proposed amendment would give the state legislature authority to change the rate at which personal property is taxed.

It further suggests the possibility of eliminating property tax on machines for businesses and cars for example.

Kelly Allen, the Executive Director for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says the purpose of the amendment is to encourage industrial development in West Virginia, but the state would be losing up to a quarter of its guaranteed tax revenue.

“We’ve done hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts for businesses, and the tax cuts in amendment two would overwhelmingly benefit business -- many of them headquartered out of state,” said Allen. “Whereas the benefits of the property taxes overwhelmingly benefit the small businesses and families that are located here.”

Allen says eliminating these taxes would drastically reduce revenue going to levy-funded services like schools and first responders.

However, Harrison County Commissioner David Hinkle says there would be a five-year contingency plan to make up for it.

“They would backfill the school boards, they’d backfill the county commission, so we wouldn’t see the cuts even if it went to 100% -- we wouldn’t see that right away, their goal is to backfill so we would have time to make adjustments,” said Hinkle.

But Allen says she has doubts whether or not this is feasible.

“West Virginia has a boom-and-bust economy, some years are really good and some years are really down,” said Allen. “It would be really hard on that roller coaster the state budget experiences to keep a commitment to backfill the counties.”

In 2021 West Virginia received more than half-a-billion dollars from taxing business machinery.

Hinkle says Amendment 2 may wind up only partially reducing this tax revenue rather than eliminating it outright.

Hinkle says, either way, he wants people to read the amendments for themselves and then vote their conscience.

Keeping you connected in Harrison County, John Blashke 5 news.