(04/18/2002)
"I feel the majority were supporters," said Roy Buchanan, chairmen of "Citizens to Save Wirt County." Over 100 people attended a community meeting last night in Elizabeth to listen to issues surrounding a proposed three-year levy which would allow Wirt to continue to operate.

Dozens of representatives, members of the West Virginia Association of Counties and other officials attended the meeting to help answer questions. The county is facing imminent financial collapse.

Buchanan said some individuals wanted to discuss past issues of concern, but "This is D-day for our county and Charleston told us two weeks ago there would be no bailout." He said voters will have the final say over a proposed operating levy on the May 14 ballot. "If we want a Wirt County, voters must deal with it," he said.

"I am proud to live in Wirt County and the quality of rural life we have. I would like to see it be here for our children and grandchildren," said Buchanan.

The proposed $185,000 levy, in effect for three years, would buy time to allow the county to develop other resources, said Buchanan. "In fact, citizens will be paying 4.1% less taxes if the levy passes," because a current school board levy is going off.

A recent study indicated 94% of county taxpayers were assessed at $25,000 or less on their property, which means their tax bill is about $35.00 a year. Most supporters of the operating levy say if the county is dissolved and "taken over" by another county, taxes are likely to rise.

Wirt County was thrown into financial distress by losing their income generating jail and having to pay a regional jail bill. The loss was $155,000 to the county.

Two previous operating levies, described as "bare bones," failed to pass. At least one was defeated by 60% against to 40% for. The levy must have 60% to pass.

Discussions surfaced regarding the legal technicalities of dissolution, which would likely be put in place July 1.

Buchanan said he is fearful some Wirt residents do not understand what is happening, and some miracle will occur to save it. He said the situation is down to the bottom-line and no miracle in sight.


Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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