What We're Up Against
Our land isn’t owned by us.
Vast swaths of West Virginia land are owned or controlled by out-of-state corporations that aren’t invested in the state’s future like West Virginians are. Absentee landowners are rewarded with low property taxes and regulations that reward dilapidated properties.
Meanwhile, small business owners are stuck, because our tax structure not only takes away their incentive to develop and improve their properties–they are punished for doing so.
It’s the oldest story in West Virginia. Our people work hard and pay their taxes, so that someone else gets rich. The people with the least pay the most, and the people with the most, pay the least.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
We’ll increase the existing excess acreage fee and make it an annual fee of $5 per acre. For out-of-state property owners–and exempting active-use farms owned by West Virginians— we’ll also switch to a market-based approach to tax assessment as opposed to Use-Value Assessment. So, we stop giving preferential treatment to large corporate landholders and stop incentivizing undeveloped and dilapidated properties.
- Clean up our outdated timber laws.
- End the “managed timberland” designation for landholders with more than 1,000 acres, so they pay their fair share, and let increased revenues from those lands return to County governments.
- Reinstate the timber severance tax to fund a Division of Forestry that can ensure proper management of our timber resources, and fund and other development opportunities.
- Incentivize large landholders to develop woodlands for public use.
- Incentivize and facilitate large-scale public infrastructure projects such as parks, trails, road maintenance, and broadband.
- Experiment with large-scale public-private partnerships in wind, solar, cannabis, and other new industries.
- Transfer at least 200 parcels of land per year to individual entrepreneurs, family farmers, farmers and/or crafters cooperatives (for local farmers markets crafters markets), veterans, displaced coal miners, etc. The application process will have the goal of maximizing local homeownership, and developing West Virginia-owned businesses.
- Adjust the tourism budget and redirect it to better help West Virginian small towns, small businesses, artisans, farms, etc.
- Raise the Homestead Exemption to $40,000 or more, to protect low-income West Virginians and senior citizens.
No one politician or slate of candidates can win this plan alone. We need you.
If you have an idea for how to make this plan stronger, or if you would like to lend a hand to win it, contact our co-chair Stephen Smith at email@example.com.