LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A standoff focused on a swimming pool project in Greenbrier County continues and the county’s budget is in the balance.
“There’s a lot at stake and both sides are firmly entrenched in their positions,” said Christian Giggenbach, a reporter for “The West Virginia Daily News,” who has followed the ongoing dispute between New River Community and Technical College and the Greenbrier County Commission closely.
Last December, in one of the last actions from former Commissioner Betty Crookshanks, the commission voted 2-1 to allocate $1.3 million in hotel-motel tax money to New River Community and Technical College for renovation work to a swimming pool, also called an “aquatic center.”
The Greenbrier County Commission had entered into a lease with New River for the project, located at New River’s Greenbrier Valley campus in Lewisburg, in 2010.
A lawsuit was filed challenging the source of that funding. In June, Special Judge Charles Vickers ruled the allocations were illegal.
However, “The Judge Vickers’ ruling did not say that the college had to give the money back. It just said there was an inappropriate allocation of the funds,” noted Giggenbach.
The question since then has focused on whether New River can be forced to return the money because of its source and improper method of allocation.
So far, New River has given back $300,000, but is calling for negotiations on the remaining $1 million because of concerns about other potential legal action if the swimming pool project does not happen.
Greenbrier County commissioners, including a new commissioner who took office after the pool project was approved last year, said the county could go bankrupt without the $1 million that came out of the wrong account because the county does not have the money to replace it.
The state Attorney General’s Office is representing New River and Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via is serving as counsel for the Greenbrier County Commission, meaning the dispute is being the county and the state.