PARSONS - Tucker County Commission members have called for a special meeting to determine how the county hotel motel tax collections will be disbursed.
Commission President Mike Rosenau asked Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora III to set up a session with commission members, the Tucker County Clerk, a representative from the Tucker County Sheriff and the Tucker County Assessor.
West Virginia Senate Bill 314 states hotel motel tax revenues may be made to medical care and emergency services, in an amount not exceeding $200,000, in any county where there is no more than one hospital within the county. This bill passed in April.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora III explains the hotel motel tax guidelines Wednesday as Tucker County Commissioner Lowell Moore, left, listens.
"Currently, the Commission is still acting on an order from Sept. 11 of last year, which takes away any payments from the hotel motel tax to the emergency services due to a conflict with West Virginia State Code," LaMora said. "Since the West Virginia State Code has been amended to allow counties without a hospital to send money to emergency services, the county can change that order back. Part of the hotel motel money, not to exceed $200,000, can be used for emergency services."
LaMora said the Commission would have to make another order explaining what monies go where.
"It doesn't have to be done right now, because the first disbursement will not go out until September," LaMora said. "So, by the end of September, we have to have something in place. Typically, we can do a yearly revision. It doesn't have to be set in stone, but could be changed as the needs change."
Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons said 50 percent of the hotel motel tax must be given to the Tucker County Convention and Visitor's Bureau to be in compliance. She said payments to emergency services could not exceed $200,000.
The issue of using hotel motel tax funding for emergency services was first brought up in August 2013 when Parsons Volunteer Fire Department representative Tom Klus asked for an additional $20,000 in funding for each of the fire departments in the county. Klus said the funding could come from the tax.
LaMora said the monies could not be used because at that time, disbursement could not be made to fire departments or EMS according to state code.
On Wednesday, Commissioners voted to table the hotel motel tax allocations until the special meeting with officials is held.
In April, Hambleton Mayor Linda Bates requested $7,500 funding to replace the sidewalk that was demolished in the removal of a water reservoir, and for additional repairs to the town hall to allow its use as an emergency shelter.
The Commission agreed to provide $7,500 for those repairs Wednesday and asked Bates to return with an itemized request for the additional upgrades and construction to be done.
Bates said she had already signed a contract with Cummings Contractors that would be paid by the $7,500 allocated Wednesday.
Commissioner Lowell Moore asked Bates why she signed a contract for the work before she received the funding.
"We assumed when I very first came that you (the commission) were going to give us the money to begin with," Bates said. "When we first came and asked for it we found out about the reservoir well. We assumed you were going to give us the money to begin with. Then you told me that had to be filled in first.
"I need $7,500 to finish where the power is coming into city hall, the electrical box, the wiring of the generator, a cage for the generator and upgrade of the emergency lighting," Bates said. "I actually need $12,500 to finish everything."
Commissioners encouraged Bates to look for additional funding by way of grants.
The next Tucker County Commission meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Aug. 27.