Gov. Justice visits Cacapon, stumps against Amendment 2

by Kate Shunney

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice stopped at Cacapon State Park on Monday, October 17 on his statewide circuit of Town Hall meetings campaigning against Amendment 2 on the November ballot.

Governor Jim Justice and State Senator Charles Trump prepare to release one of many large trout at Cacapon Resort State Park as part of the 2022 Fall Trout Stocking and Monster Trout Program. photo by Todd Buzzerd

While in Berkeley Springs, Justice also kicked off the 2022 Fall Trout Stocking program and Monster Trout Stocking effort by placing trophy-size trout in Cacapon Lake. State Senator Charles Trump was recruited to help the governor get the trout in the water on Monday.

Gov. Justice rounded out his visit with a third piece of business – presenting a ceremonial check for $2.5 million to represent the state’s commitment to match federal funding for a planned sewer and water extension south along U.S. 522.

At Cacapon lodge, West Virginia Secretary of Revenue Dave Hardy told a gathered crowd of several dozen people that Amendment 2 would undue 90 years of local tax control.

The West Virginia Constitution guarantees that the large majority of property taxes go to counties where they originate, and Hardy told those gathered that Amendment 2 – known as the Property Tax Modernization Amendment — would instead give the West Virginia Legislature the revenue and the power to disburse it.

The governor made clear he is against Amendment 2. He said his effort to modernize the state’s tax structure and remove some taxes was stopped in the State Senate, and resulted in the constitutional amendment being added to the ballot.

Justice said the amendment’s proposal to exempt machinery and equipment and business inventory from personal property tax would primarily benefit large, out of state corporations, not state residents.

The provision in the amendment to remove a vehicle tax for state residents will be accomplished even if the amendment is voted down, Justice said.

The governor suggested that cutting off equipment and inventory tax revenue could leave the state vulnerable if the economy drops again, making it unable to pay key debts.

Justice said the amendment would stop local government bodies from collecting and allocation property tax dollars.

“It would take local control away and give control to Charleston,” he said.

Justice closed his visit to Cacapon by talking about recent efforts to extend water and sewer service 2.6 additional miles along U.S. 522 to boost business and growth opportunities.

“The project will include approximately 35,200 linear feet of sewer lines, 3 pumping stations, approximately 23,000 linear feet of water lines and the necessary water tanks as required,” the governor said. The total estimated completed cost is just over $6 million, with $3.3 million coming from the federal EDA, $2.5 million from the West Virginia Office of Economic Development and a local match for the remaining cost.

Governor Jim Justice with Morgan County Commissioners Sean Forney and Joel Tuttle, and the governor’s dog, Baby Dog, at Cacapon State Park on October 17.