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Revenue concern is understandable

Earlier this week, we warned that a proposal by some West Virginia legislators to reduce, then eliminate a tax paid by many manufacturers would run into a buzz saw if it lacks safeguards for local government entities.

On Monday, the point was reinforced by local officials in Follansbee.

Providing tax relief to job creators is important, of course. Lawmakers who want to do that plan a multi-year phaseout of the tax in question, which generates about $100 million a year in revenue.

But critics note most of that revenue flows to municipalities and counties, including school systems, not Charleston.

During a Follansbee City Council meeting Monday, the matter came up. City Manager John DeStefano said the tax measure is being monitored by the West Virginia Municipal League, because of concern over how it would affect local governments.

DeStefano added that the tax represents about 23 percent of Brooke County revenues, or approximately $6 million.

Legislators proposing the change say state money would be used to make up for tax revenue losses at the local level. That certainly may be possible, especially if the reduction is phased in over a number of years.

As the local discussion illustrates, however, any change must include solid safeguards for localities.

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