- Associated Press - Friday, July 1, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - An agency that represents logging operators and timber owners is blaming Gov. Early Ray Tomblin for state Division of Forestry layoffs.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/299VdsO ) reports that the West Virginia Forestry Association said Wednesday that Tomblin could have shifted funds from discretionary accounts to prevent the layoffs, which affected 37 employees who battle wildfires and monitor logging sites.

The governor had offered to call off the layoffs earlier this week if the timber industry would support a severance tax that funded the Division of Forestry, but industry officials rejected the offer.

State Commerce Department spokeswoman Chelsea Ruby said taxpayers would pay about $1.8 million for the tax.

“They want to reap the benefits of the services the Division of Forestry is providing, but they want the taxpayers to foot the bill,” she said.

The timber industry in West Virginia has paid a severance tax of 2.78 percent to 4 percent since 1989. Starting Friday, timber operators will pay a rate of 1.5 percent.

The president of the forestry association, Frank Stewart, accused the governor of playing politics.

“The governor’s willingness to play politics with the lives of these individuals and the safety of the citizens of West Virginia is deeply troubling,” he said.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide