House Passes Bill Giving Counties More Local Authority

Feb 26, 2016

Credit Sarah Lowther Hensley / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bill passed in the House today that gives more local control to counties when it comes to fixing their roads. It received over an hour’s worth of debate on the floor.

House Bill 4009 allows counties to propose and fund road projects by imposing a sales tax that would not exceed 1 percent. That tax would first have to be approved by 60 percent of the voters in the county in a referendum. The road plans would then have to be approved by the Division of Highways.

The bill has also been referred to as the Mon County Bill, referring to Monongalia County, the county from which its lead sponsor hails. Del. Joe Statler says roads in the county are in major disrepair due to the amount of students at West Virginia University and overall population growth.

There was a mix of support and opposition from both sides of the aisle. Statler’s fellow Mon County Delegate Cindy Frich spoke against the bill saying that allowing the tax will hurt her constituents.

Delegate Statler stood to defend his bill.

“In Monongalia County, I wish that the state had the issues that we had with growth. I really do. If there’s anything I can say to you today, I wish the whole state had these growth problems, because if we did, we’d have a lot of our issues would be settled, our tax dollars would be rolling, but here’s what I’m telling you, that if we don’t allow something to happen, if you don’t allow us to help ourselves, because the state does not have the money to do what we need to do in Monongalia County today, they may help, but they don’t have the money. We’ve got right here, 11 projects, I got identified from the MPO, at over $280 million dollars, and that’s only a drop of what’s going on that needs to be addressed in Monongalia County. If , if we don’t do that, then the growth is going to start slowing down.” - Del. Joe Statler, R-Monongalia County.

House Bill 4009 passed 60 to 39 and now heads to the Senate.