West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2024

#158-Interview with Tricia Jackson-Republican Candidate for Auditor-WV

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Tricia Jackson’s Candidacy for West Virginia State Auditor
Richard introduced Tricia Jackson, a Republican primary candidate for West Virginia State Auditor. Tricia explained her decision to run for the position, citing her current role as a county commissioner in Jefferson County and her previous experience with the auditor’s office. She highlighted her background in budgeting, tracking taxpayer dollars, and her comprehensive understanding of the state’s bookkeeping, agencies, counties, and municipalities. She also emphasized her experience in executive-level operations, project management, and human resources.
West Virginia Checkbook and Project Mountaineer
Richard and Tricia discussed the West Virginia Checkbook and Project Mountaineer. Tricia clarified that Project Mountaineer is the operational name for the West Virginia Checkbook at the county and municipal level, used to track revenues and expenses. She noted that the system is currently voluntary and only 27 out of 55 counties are integrated. Tricia also suggested that legislation might be needed for boards of education to join the system. Richard expressed concerns about the lack of detailed financial information available to the public, to which Tricia confirmed that while payroll expenses are included, specific line items and salaries are not currently disclosed. Tricia explained her use of a ‘catch-all bucket’ term to describe services that are outsourced to the county, including professional services like public relations, attorney’s fees, and human resources. The discussion left an open question about the exact annual cost for outsourced expenses, like additional attorney’s fees, even though the county has its own attorneys.
Improving School Fund Allocation Transparency
Tricia and Richard criticized the lack of clarity and specificity in the allocation of funds in their school system. They noted that this led to confusion among taxpayers and teachers, with excessive funds seemingly supporting bloated administrative staff rather than benefiting teachers. They called for improved reporting and transparency, particularly regarding the allocation of funds for teacher salaries and school improvements. Tricia suggested standardizing reporting processes, providing tools to make reporting easier, and mandatory inclusion of school systems in the transparency portal. The issue of staff salaries was also raised, with Tricia indicating a need to investigate any legal restrictions on including this information.
Improving Accessibility, Availability, and Budget Prioritization
Tricia and Richard discussed ways to improve accessibility and availability of information from the portal, with Tricia emphasizing the need for an inclusive approach that caters to all users, including those with limited internet access. They also addressed issues related to budget management, specifically the problem of unused budgets at the end of the fiscal year. Tricia expressed her concern about the prioritization of spending, suggesting that essential services and small businesses should be given greater priority over multimillion-dollar corporations. The conversation indicated that the state legislature sets the budget, and the auditor tracks expenses.
Property Taxation and Assessment Issues
Tricia and Richard discussed the high taxation issues they face, particularly regarding property taxes. Richard expressed concern about the substantial amount he pays in property taxes, even as a senior. Tricia confirmed that the homestead credit is available to him but noted that it has not changed despite rising assessed values in their area. They also discussed the levy rate, which has remained the same for three years, and how it is adjusted to meet increased assessed values, resulting in no reduction in their tax bill. Richard brought up potential issues with property tax assessment, indicating significant variations in property values.
Assessor’s Office Oversight and Auditor’s Role
Richard and Tricia discussed the oversight of the Assessor’s office and the role of the auditor in addressing corruption and improving transparency. Tricia clarified that the auditor’s office has no direct oversight over the Assessor’s office but can review issues related to revenue impact. Tricia also emphasized her commitment to improving transparency and reducing fraud through better access to information. She pointed out three opponents in the upcoming election and explained that they all voted for the $300 million subsidy for Form Energy, which she feels is not in the tax payer’s best interest.

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