NOVEMBER 2021 - The Board of Directors of the West Virginia Association of Counties held its annual fall meeting at the Stonewall Resort in Lewis County from October 3 through October 5. I'm pleased that we could come together in person and discuss County government issues and opportunities.
We were very fortunate to have Roger Hanshaw, Speaker of the WV House of Delegates, Eric Tarr, WV Senate Finance Chair, and Senator Mike Romano as a guest during our meeting. They each made presentations and answered questions about ongoing County issues and concerns.
Counties continue to struggle with static County revenue to meet increasing costs, including skyrocketing jail fees (projected to raise $ 54.13 per inmate day effective July 1, 2022). We now face uncertainty with the passage of HJR 3 during the 2021 legislative session. HJR 3 is a proposed amendment to the state constitution, which creates a framework for the legislature to exempt some business personal property, inventory taxes, and people's car taxes. The total lost revenue to counties is estimated to be as much as 400 million dollars per year. HJR 3 does not include a mandated mechanism to replace income lost by Counties.
WVACO will work with the legislature to prevent counties from severely losing revenue to the local governments.
We approved the adding the following language to ARTICLE III OFFICERS AND ELECTIONS, Section 3 Nominations of our bylaws:
"The Vice-President of the next group in rotation shall be designated First Vice-President, and the Vice-President of the second group in rotation shall be designated Second Vice-President. These designations shall establish a line of succession to become President."
The board unanimously approved the legislative priorities presented by the County Commissioners, County Clerks, Assessors, Sheriff's, Circuit Clerks, and Prosecuting Attorneys. The board also unanimously approved a proposal to request legislation to establish a periodic review and granting of CPI (consumer price index) calculated salary increases to elected officials. It has been eight years since the last raises in local officials' salaries.
The legislature has now adopted redistricting based upon the 2020 census. The plan includes 100 single-member delegate districts, 17 senatorial districts, and two congressional districts. Our County clerks have begun the process of establishing precinct boundaries that will comply with these new configurations.
Special thanks to House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, Senate Finance Chair Eric Tarr, and Senator Mike Romano for attending our meeting. We appreciate their willingness to listen to our concerns and work with us to find solutions.
I am thankful we could meet in person and achieve unanimous approval of our proposed legislative agendas. The discussions and actions at this meeting will propel us forward as we continue to advocate for counties and the roles each office and its elected official plays in every county residence life.
Paul H. Flanagan
Raleigh Circuit Clerk