Give Taxpayers Share of Surplus

Marshall County commissioners have a windfall on their hands – as much as $2.6 million. In addition to taking care of very real needs in county government, they should give taxpayers a break.

County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel reported this week that commissioners had a general fund cash carryover of about $2.25 million from the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30. In addition, they expect to receive more than $427,000 in money from the state for that fiscal year.

Two wise allocations of money from that windfall already have been made. Commissioners agreed to set aside $1 million for work on the new county public safety center on Seventh Street. In addition, they will place $534,500 in a “stabilization” fund – in effect, a rainy day account to guard against unforeseen fiscal emergencies in the future.

Other suggestions have been made for use of the windfall. One is to establish a youth recreation center. And, as Frohnapfel pointed out, maintenance work is needed at the courthouse.

But taxpayers should get a share of the money, too.

Commissioners already have acted responsibly in that regard. Informed months ago that the value of taxable property had increased in the county, they agreed to a modest reduction in the rate at which property is taxed. That will save taxpayers a few dollars.

No one should expect a huge amount of tax relief in Marshall County, of course. By the time tax breaks are spread around to the thousands of property owners in the county, benefits will be reckoned in terms of just a few dollars per year for most.

That is better than nothing, of course. It is better than the continuing tax burden increase that makes it more and more difficult for many West Virginians to make ends meet in their own households.

And, as commissioners recognized in their previous action, sharing the benefit of higher property values and increased revenue will taxpayers is a matter of keeping faith with those who pay the bills in Marshall County.

So, even if truly important needs in county government take most of the surplus, commissioners should find a way to give at least some of it back to taxpayers.