LEWISBURG — Greenbrier County Commissioners are asking the state Legislature to hold off on any precipitous removal of the personal property tax on business and manufacturing inventories.
On a split vote, the commission adopted a resolution Tuesday warning that removal of the tax would cost Greenbrier County some $750,000 a year, a sizable hit for a county with an annual budget that hovers around $12 million.
“This tax is a huge income for counties,” Commissioner Tammy Tincher said.
The tax provides funding for county governmental entities and board of education, the resolution notes. In adopting the resolution, commissioners emphasized that the citizenry would have to shoulder the burden of making up for the lost funds (through higher taxes), if the state were to slash or eliminate the inventory tax without having another revenue stream ready to replace it.
For that reason, the resolution urges that the Legislature take no vote to reduce or remove the tax “without feasible and adequate funding alternatives to compensate the loss of the public funds needed” by the county to fund law enforcement, social services and education budgets.
Commissioner Mike McClung, the governing body’s only opponent to the resolution, said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to tax inventories and, therefore, could not in good conscience support his fellow commissioners. The county’s budget could be cut to offset the loss of tax revenue, he pointed out.
And, with the Legislature unlikely to tackle the proposed elimination of the inventory tax during the current session, McClung said, “I believe this is a little premature.”
Besides, he said, “It’s only a suggestion for people we don’t have any authority over.”
Commission President Lowell Rose agreed with McClung that the inventory tax is regressive, but said, “We want to be proactive.”
He said it is important to let legislators know that Greenbrier and other counties oppose losing this revenue stream without a suitable replacement waiting in the wings.
“This is mostly symbolic,” Rose acknowledged.
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