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WV counties fear proposed equipment tax cut

BECKLEY, W.Va. — When coalfield leaders met with tax officials in Charleston recently, they walked out of the meeting knowing more financial headaches are imminent.

The coalfields, already struggling with declining population because of mine layoffs or shutdowns, recently learned coal companies’ personal property taxes on idled mining equipment and machinery could be reduced to 30 percent of assessed value, if one proposal for tax reform is passed. That could translate into millions in lost revenue for schools and county coffers.

 State tax officials said the reduction is needed to keep mining companies in West Virginia. While coalfield assessors and commissioners understand the financial need to keep industry here, they are asking where the revenue to pay salaries, keep services operating and educate students is going to come from if the assessed value is decreased.

Attending the meeting were officials from Boone, Lincoln, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming counties.

Boone County, where several coal mines have been shuttered recently, could face more than $2.6 million in lost revenue annually, said Chief Deputy Assessor Susan Baisden.

“We will be hit the hardest of all the counties,” she said.

Baisden said county schools could lose around $1.8 million annually, while the county will experience an $880,000 reduction.

Commissioner Al Halstead, a lifelong Boone County resident and retired miner, said he’s never seen it this bad…


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