Wirt County voters approve levy

ELIZABETH – The second time was the charm for Wirt County officials as voters approved the county’s four-year operating levy during Saturday’s special election with over 11 percent to spare.

During November’s general election, the continuing levy received 58.83 percent of the vote in favor, but failed to pass because a 60 percent super majority was required for that type of levy.

On Saturday, Wirt County voters approved the levy with 791 “yes” votes, for 71.39 percent in support, and 317 “no” votes, for 28.61 percent opposed.

“I’m very happy about how things worked out,” Wirt County Commission President Bob Gunnoe said Saturday night.

Gunnoe praised the efforts of levy supporters who have been active in the last several months in seeking support for the levy, which will continue in place for another four years. With the levy’s passage, county officials will not have to make emergency cuts in the county’s budget, he said.

Wirt is the only county in West Virginia with an operating levy. The levy’s passage generates around $225,000 a year for the county. It was initially passed to keep the county solvent and prevent consolidation into surrounding counties.

The levy’s proceeds are used for employee salaries, building maintenance and supplies and regional jail costs.

According to the 2010 Census, Wirt County has 5,717 residents, the smallest in the state.

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