|By Bob Weaver|
Southern Calhoun County residents should double-take their tax tickets
Each acre is being valued at $5 for unmineable coal that lies two to
nine hundred feet
under their property, according to Assessor Jason Nettles. Washington
resident Loren Howley asked for a clarification from the West Virginia
at a review and equalization meeting of the Calhoun Commission last
Nettles agreed with Ms. Howley it was a far stretch to tax the coal,
considered unmineable by today's standards. Coal researchers say the
depth of the
coal and the nature of the seams makes it impractical, although
estimates in the
early part of 1900 indicate there is 300 million tons of Bakersfield
coal and 100 million
tons of Pittsburgh coal under southern Calhoun.
Ms. Howley, speaking as a taxpayer, said the law of taxation was
originally based on
market value. "This coal has no market value," she told the Chief
Geologist for Mines
and Minerals with the State Tax Department, who attended the meeting.
absolutely unfair to tax these deposits. How can the legislature make
you pay a tax
on something that is of no value to you?" she asked.
The geologist produced a map which allegedly shows the deep deposits,
not validate its science in defining the location of seams under
specific parcels. He
said the taxation law passed by the legislature exceeds the rule of
taxing "true value
if it were to be sold." The Charleston Gazette reported holders of
unmineable coal in
Kanawha and other counties have been taxed at a higher rate than coal
with mineable coal.
Howley asked the geologist "How do you know the coal is a continuous
continued to refer to early 1900 maps.
Beyond the "bad geology study" problem, the seams do not qualify for
unless "beyond extreme" mountain top removal would be used to extract
"This unreasonable tax violates the confidence the public has in
government to tax,"
Howley said. Few other Washington District residents have
The taxation of oil, gas, coal or other minerals has essentially been
taken over by the
State of West Virginia, according to Assessor Nettles. "There is
little room to take
care of the problem locally," he said.
Pittsburgh coal under southern Washington District
Bakersfield coal under southern Washington District