MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A lawsuit hasn’t been ruled out by the head of the Monongalia County Commission in an effort to find out why the county didn’t receive a single cent of retail liquor and wine sales during the 2013-14 football season.
“It’s not been discussed as of yet,” Commission President Ed Hawkins said. “I think that, in reality, it might be something I might recommend.”
Instead, the County will continue to seek information from the State Tax Department.
“We’ve done everything that we feel we should do,” Hawkins said.
County Commission has sent letters on June 5, 2017 and Nov. 8, 2017 to the Tax Department, trying to figure out why alcohol sales significantly diminished. The reduction included two entire quarters, October 2013 through December 2013 and January 2014 through March 2014, where the county received not a single cent of revenue. In the previous seven quarters, the lowest total return was $23,820.71.
The Tax Department denied the County Commission’s request for additional information, claiming that State Code permits only municipalities to request such information.
“How these individuals can rule that we have no material interest and a municipality does have material interest is beyond me because the code doesn’t state that it excludes a County Commission,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said the Tax Department’s intent is clear.
“The ‘denied’ being in bold print is absolutely to me a reason that — don’t come here again,” he said.
The County is not, at this time, attempting to recoup any potential lost tax dollars. Rather, they’re more interested in information that helps correct the issue moving forward.
“That’s all we’re asking for,” Hawkins said. “We’re not being hard line here. We weren’t even asking for the money that may be due or not due us. We just needed the information to just see where do we go from here, how do we make the correction, and how do we determine.”
Hawkins said this comes as a significant disappointment on the same day that a cooperative partnership with the Division of Highways led to a nearly $1 million project to ditch and resurface around seven miles of the well-traveled River Road.
“With the letter from the Department of Highways, we’ve formed a cooperative partnership,” he said. “I don’t understand why we can’t have a cooperative partnership with our Tax Department.”
You can also see the alcohol numbers that prompted this issue here.