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Senate once more passes invoice to permit small counties to impose recreation charge to fund fireplace, EMS

MORGANTOWN — The Senate is as soon as once more attempting to present small rural counties a software to fund their fireplace and EMS companies. SB 167 was among the many payments that handed the Senate on Friday and headed to the Home.

SB 167 would permit any county to impose a $1 well being and security charge on a listing of specified tourism and recreation actions to place towards the price of emergency readiness.

Funds from the charge would go right into a devoted account, and 60% must fund fireplace and EMS companies, whereas 40% might be used to pay for crucial infrastructure tasks. The charge couldn’t be imposed inside a metropolis that has an amusement tax.

The invoice permits counties to hunt a waiver on the 60%, to use all the charge income to crucial infrastructure for as much as three years.

The invoice has been within the system for a number of years. Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, has been lead sponsor.

Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne, stood to oppose the invoice. “It has nothing to do with the issues that Tucker County is going through with their EMS,” he stated. Underfunded EMS companies are a statewide downside.

There is no such thing as a state construction to assist EMS, he stated, no wants evaluation and no technique to distribute cash appropriately. And he signed the Individuals for Tax Reform no-new-taxes pledge.

Smith stated it isn’t only a Tucker County invoice. He represents eight counties. However Tucker, for instance, has simply 6,500 residents and sees 32,000 vacationers on the weekends, all placing stress on EMS.

The charge isn’t a brand new tax, he stated — it’s a toll for the counties. “We move all these guidelines and laws on to our counties however we by no means give them any manner or any means to fund what we push on our counties,” together with EMS companies.

The vote was 30-4. Maynard and three different Republicans opposed it. All native senators voted for it. Final yr’s invoice handed the Senate however died within the Home.

SB 188 is the Mountain Properties Act, aimed toward recruiting new companies and employees to the state.

The invoice creates the Mountain Properties Fund to allow the Financial Growth Authority to offer assured development loans for residential housing tasks the place the lenders require the builders to have at the very least 50% of the funds, and the builders are unable to produce that.

The venture should encompass at the very least six residential items with a mixed appraised worth of $800,000. The assure should not exceed $400,000, and whole annual ensures could not exceed $10 million. The Legislature could acceptable funds if it chooses.

The act would take impact Jan. 1, 2025, and run to Jan. 1, 2035. It handed 32-2 with out debate. Two Republicans voted no.

HB 4850 offers with oil and fuel private property taxes. The problem made the information lately when it was found {that a} state Tax Division contractor miscalculated the tax valuations for oil and fuel properties in eight counties, costing these counties greater than $22.9 million all mixed.

Assessors beforehand assessed oil and fuel wells on a category system, however the state Supreme Courtroom dominated that methodology unconstitutional in 2019 and the Legislature handed a invoice in 2022 to require every property to be assessed individually; the errors occurred in 2023.

The thrust of the invoice was to get rid of from the 2022 laws the July 1, 2025, sundown for the brand new methodology, making it everlasting.

Sen. Laura Chapman, R-Ohio, stated it could be higher to attend on passing this invoice, on condition that quite a few lawsuits are pending.

Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, spoke each for and in opposition to the invoice. The Legislature handed the invoice creating the brand new formulation two years in the past as a result of there was none. However the Tax Division made main errors administering the tax assessments.

The laws shouldn’t be good however the bugs may be labored out, he stated. “The worst factor we are able to do is permit this invoice to sundown,” he stated, referring to the 2022 laws. That may spark all types of lawsuits.

Clements referred to as on Finance chair Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, to fulfill with stakeholders and give you a greater formulation by subsequent session.

However as a result of Wetzel County was a kind of that suffered due to the errors — it misplaced about $1.57 million in taxes — he needed to vote in opposition to the invoice.

The vote was 28-6 and, unamended by the Senate, it goes to the governor.

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