ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Thursday the Randolph County Commission tried to get the public involved by contacting the State Development Authority and stop what it calls a “money grab” by the City of Elkins.
The commission has called the city’s application for “Tax Increment Financing,” or a TIF, was what Commissioner Christopher Siler calls “Legalized Theft.”
“It’s been legalized and passed by the legislature to let city’s steal money that is not theirs to use for projects that are in the city,” Said Siler, “Most people come and ask the county for funding and ask them for help they don’t just go and take the money.”
The commission said it would take 30 years of future tax revenue from the county and give it to the city with no county input or decision on where it goes.
“We have no say in this, you know there is not a vote that we can say, ‘Hey we don’t want you to do this,’ only thing that we can do is to get the word out to the public to contact the State Development Authority and express your concerns about it,” said David Kesling, Randolph County Commission President, “this county commission will be reaching out to the legislature to help future counties to avoid this and at least get the county to have a say in the matter.”
The City of Elkins has applied for the TIF, which would freeze the tax rate at the July 1, 2022 tax rate for the selected TIF region for 30 years.
Any tax dollar revenues generated above the July 1, 2022 tax rate for the next 30 years would fund the city’s tax TIF bonds only and not go to the rest of the country’s needs.
Commissioners say they believe the City of Elkins is misleading the State Development Authority on projects that already have a funding source.
“Well the county gave $250,000 to Randolph County Development Authority, which has already secured the funding for that event center, so why put that in your application? That’s kind of misleading, we need TIF money to build an event center when the event center is already funded?” Kesling said, “We’re not going to let somebody just have a money grab of tax dollars that should got to the county, to the state, to the county Board of Education, with no say from those entities whatsoever, and that’s what is happening they’re taking future tax dollars.”
During the county commission meeting, they approved a letter to oppose a TIF application from the City of Elkins to Michael Graney, the Executive Director with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development.
If the TIF application is approved for the City of Elkins, Randolph County Commission said it could lose about $25 million in tax revenue over a 30-year period, which would impact funding for the entire county.
To voice your concern you can contact the West Virginia Department of Economic Development by calling 304-558-2234 or write a letter to 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Building 3, suite 600, Charleston, West Virginia 25305