By Bob Weaver

Calhoun County is facing yet another year of "peter to paul" economics to keep things going, according to Commission President Chip Westfall, the commission soon to begin working on the 2020-2021 budget year.

Westfall said there will likely be shortfalls despite some new tax money from the White Oak Compressor station in northern Calhoun, which went into operation March, 2019, operated by three people, two from Calhoun.

He said the giant $94 million plant built by TransCanada would be an example of 21st Century technology that requires few jobs.

The county will receive taxes from the project, projected at $1.2 million, with 65% going to Calhoun Schools and 35% going to the county.

Westfall said the county finances are now stretched over the jail bill, which is now about $600,000. For each person in jail it costs the county about $1,500 per month, the crime rate has really increased because of the drug problem.

A number of WV rural counties have been unable to pay on their jail bill, in some cases it has exceeded well over a million dollars.

Calhoun Commissioner Kevin Helmick said, "Since the drop in tax funds coming into the county the past four years we have had a hard time paying Calhoun’s jail bill, which was running over $30,000 a month."

"The previous budget year we had no money to pay on it, but it seems that things are slowly starting to turn around this budget year. We have been able to pay around $10,000 a month so far this year." Helmick said.

A number of counties have been unable to make monthly payments.

"Budget year 20/21 we are projecting around $200,000 increase in tax revenue out of $600,000 from the TransCanada compressor and $400,000 out of $1.2 million for the budget year 21/22. That will hopefully allow to make a significant reduction in the accumulated deficit on the growing bill," he concluded.

The 65% of $1,200,000 million taxes designated for schools, the county school system will likely be able to keep only 15% because of designated funding linked the school funding formula, according to Superintendent Kelli Whytsell.

During the previous administration of Tim Woodward, the commission initially proposed a tax deal with the TransCanada project that would have allowed county schools to keep all their tax funds, creating a fund that would have been used to pay down the school deficit which was initially $1.8 million.

The school system denied that proposal.

The commission budget for the year will be completed in March, Westfall said.