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UPDATE: Wirt County Levy Passes By 70%


UPDATE: 2/25/2013

Wirt County voters avoided what could have been major cuts to emergency services.

The county passed an operating levy Saturday with the most votes ever received for this levy.

The levy failed twice before, not receiving the sixty percent needed to pass.

Wirt County has the smallest operating budget in the entire state, and it's an important part of running the county and keeping services available.

"It's a wonderful thing the people have thought this over and are willing to sacrifice a little bit to keep their community they way they want it and their county the way they want it," says Wirt County Commissioner, Charles Murray.

The levy generates around 225,000 dollars for the county. The operating budget goes towards non-elected officials, the regional jail, utilities and upkeep, and emergency services.

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It came close to passing three months ago...now, Wirt County residents are going back to the polls Saturday, to vote on continuing West Virginia's only county operating levy.

Nearly 59% of voters who went to the polls in November were in favor of the now decade-old Wirt County operating levy. But by West Virginia law, that isn't enough for it to pass. That was a general election. This one will be a special election, held on a Saturday.

"We do need 60%, and that's what's on the table this time," says Sherry Smith, a member of a concerned citizens group promoting the levy's passage, "and we're doing all we can to get all those folks out who aren't thinking about the levy in the right terms, and how important it is."

The levy funds salaries for non-elected county officials, including many county employees. It also is used to pay for utilities and maintenence, and for regional jail bills.

Wirt County begins work in March on its budget for the coming fiscal year. Commissioners fear that if the levy doesn't pass, it will have to make cuts, beginning with what are called "outside agencies", some of which are essential to residents.

"That would be the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, the health department, the fire department, the EMS," says Charles Murray, County Commission member. "These kinds of things mean so much to the community."

Wirt County officials say that, when drilling comes to the county, they might see some revenues from that. But they're not sure when that might happen.

"We're presently working on our books, to make it easier for (drilling companies) to access and get to," Murray says, "and hopefully, we'll be ready for them when they come."

If the levy is passed, the rate will be 10% below what it has been. That, murray says, is because there has been slight growth in the county tax base.


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