Senate bill would allow counties to set 1% sales tax

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.-(WTAP) Counties across West Virginia are appealing to the legislature to allow them to enact a 1% sales tax.

That's the intent of a bill now before the Senate Finance Committee.

County officials, including Wood County Commission President Blair Couch, talked to lawmakers Thursday about the proposal.

He calls it "Local Control" for counties.

The head of the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia says several counties' property tax levies are already at the maximum rate allowed by law.

Couch has previously said that Wood County's levy rate is one of the lowest in the state.

Vivian Parsons, Executive Director of the association, however, notes most of the revenues collected from property owners goes to schools.

The sales tax, if allowed, would only be charged in unincorporated communities, and not in cities.

"And we feel it's fairer with this 1% sales tax, that it's not just for the citizens of our county," Parsons says, "who would have to bear the burden, but anyone who comes in to purchase or participate in tourism, to help shoulder the burden of the services that are needed."

Wood, along with other counties, has struggled to pay its regional jail bills.

Couch for some time has called for Home Rule for counties, similar to what's allowed for some West Virginia cities.

Senator Mike Azinger says he's sympathetic to the counties' issue, but is concerned about the additional burden of a sales tax to taxpayers.