Wirt County to hold levy election Saturday

ELIZABETH- The special election for the operating levy in Wirt County will be held Saturday.

The levy, which will be the only issue on the special election ballot, failed with less than the 60 percent super majority required for approval in the general election on Nov. 6. The levy’s approval vote was less than 59 percent.

Wirt County Commissioner Charles Murray said the county’s tax base has been traditionally low without a lot of industry. Bills continue to accumulate with expenses to the regional jail that the county is responsible for.

“Costs continue to rise,” he said.

Wirt is the only county in the state with an operating levy. The levy’s passage would generate around $225,000 a year for the county.

The levy was initially passed to keep the county solvent and prevent consolidation into surrounding counties. According to the 2010 Census, Wirt County has 5,717 residents, the smallest in the state.

The levy’s continued failure would result in a 20-25 percent cut in the county’s $1 million a year budget.

“That is a lot to try and cut,” Murray said. “It would be hard to cut that and still be able to operate.”

The situation has improved over the last few years since the levy has been in effect with the county being able to pay its bills and meet its responsibilities, Murray said.

With natural gas drilling projects slated in the area, officials said there are prospects of new revenues that will be coming into the county.

The town of Elizabeth has been encouraging residents to support the county operating levy, Mayor Penny McVay said.

“It is important for everyone to get that levy passed,” she said.

This election will operate as a regular election with polling places open Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., said County Clerk Suellen Calebaugh.

Early voting has been going on at the courthouse in Elizabeth.