WELCOME to the West Virginia Association of Counties.
Heading to 2021 - The Road Ahead:
There is an old adage that it is good to live in interesting times. This year 2020 has given us more than
any reasonable person could have imagined.
One year ago, the economy of West Virginia was moving forward - not doing well, but not tanking. The population and job drain particularly in the south was continuing, but we were not by West Virginia norms doing badly. We knew there would be an election that would be a hard fought; there were going to be attempts to increase business opportunities by reducing business and inventory taxes with a solution that could put county government at a loss to provide the needed services; and on a bright spot, what seemed to be an increase in travel and tourism was bringing revenue and employment to our state.
And then the bottom of the bucket fell out.
The West Virginia Association of County Officials, led by Assessors and County Commissioners, sought to make sure that if there was to be business tax relief, it wouldn’t come by harming local government. The tax cut was imbedded in SJR 9, which would have given all property tax revenue to State government – after a vote of approval by the people. Thankfully, it failed.
And as the Legislative Session was ending, COVID-19 blew in. There were some early warnings but the coronavirus did not land in our state until mid-March. Initially there were a lot of thoughts: some said it was more like a bad case of the flu; it would go away with warm weather within weeks or months; and it would end with quick research that would find a “cure.”
As the state was “shut down” to stem the virus spread, county clerks were hard at work preparing the biggest election in four years; law enforcement was battling a continuation of the opioid crisis; and Covid caused a reduction of revenue in many counties that still keep Commissioners and other County Elected Officials up nights. And I haven’t included the diligent work by every county official to provide continued service of their own operations AND a safe workspace for our employees. It has been an “all hands on-deck” moment that continues.
County officials: job well-done.