Pocahontas County Commission Keeps Hotel/Motel Tax Allotments At Same Percentages As Last Year
Marlinton,WV – At their meeting Tuesday night, the Pocahontas County Commissioners voted to keep the allotments for the Hotel/Motel tax revenues the same as last year. But during the more than hour long discussion on the breakdown of the allotments, some controversy arose over funding of the county’s historic preservation group.
The money comes from the lodging tax on various establishments in the county. By WV state law, half of those revenues automatically go to the county Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Commission designated $75,000.00 each to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital and the Emergency Medical Services Authority, and $50,000.00 to the county fire association, despite a plea from Marlinton Fire Chief Herbie Barlow to increase the amount for the fire depts. The EMS and fire funds are split between the county’s fire and rescue squads. The Commissioners also designated $30,000.00 to go the courthouse bricks and mortar fund.
100% of the remaining funds is split between several county organizations. The percentages are as follows:
Parks & Recreation – 32%
Arts Council – 6%
Landmarks Commission – 6%
Dramas, Fairs, & Festivals – 22%
Pocahontas County Free Libraries – 34%
Many of the organizations receiving funding were represented at the meeting Tuesday night, and most were agreeable with the allotments they received. However there was some controversy with the allotment for the county libraries – specifically whether or not part of that allotment could continue to cover the activities of the county’s historic preservation group. The $89,000.00 that got the project going several years ago is now close to running out. Allen Johnson, who recently stepped down as the Director of the PCFL says they can’t afford to fund both themselves and the preservation project. Preservation officer BJ Gudmundsson says there are other funding sources, but they come with a hitch.
“Everybody’s only funding people now who have longevity,” says Gudmundsson. “There has to be a plan for future funding. I think it’s probably premature for us to continue to say we’ll be able to stand on our own in a year, we won’t.”
Commission President David Fleming suggested taking some of the library allocation and giving it to the preservation project, but was unable to persuade the other Commissioners. Gudmundsson offers her view on the funding issue.
“Actually to tell you the truth, I’m very, very unnerved,” she says. “I’m sitting right now with a whole room in my house piled full of scrap books and collections from people all over the United States, with the promise that their things are going to be scanned, they’re going to be catalogued for the library, they’re going to go into the statewide and national database; now I’m not going to let them down. I feel like the library has hung us out to dry and I’m sorry to say that, but that’s exactly the way I feel.”
There seems to be a disconnect as to whether or not the historic preservation project is considered part of the libraries budget. Gudmundsson says she was led to believe that the library would continue to support the project, but Johnson says that just isn’t possible given the belt tightening the library is already experiencing. He suggested that the preservation group should ask the Commission for a contribution to keep the project going. The next opportunity for the Commission to consider such a request will be at their first meeting in February.
Tune in for noon hour on Friday for more from the Pocahontas County Commission meeting.