EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPRATT PROBLEMS
from Eyewitness News Online
Town Could Be Dissolved After Discovery Of Misuse Of Funds
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Videographer: Brad Rice
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Aug. 27, 2012 9:17 PM EDT
Pratt , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Serious money problems for a small town in Eastern Kanawha County could have grave consequences. The Kanawha County Commission is now considering dissolving the town of Pratt after discovering, for three years, it failed to pay the Internal Revenue Service.
"There was a mix up there somehow," Pratt Mayor Gary Fields says.
The Mayor says federal tax withholdings were used to pay other bills from 2008 to 2010. Mayor Fields took office in 2009. The misappropriation has added up to $140,000 in tax liens against the town and against its water utility system.
When asked about who was in charge of the money, the mayor said he didn't know.
A county attorney discovered the tax liens last week. They only add to a long list of problems for the small town, including, failing to pay into the state retirement system and the struggling water utility.
West Virginia American Water was in the process of taking over the town's water system, but Commissioner Dave Hardy says the newly discovered tax lien could put that in jeopardy.
"The bottom line is we have to get the water system in good order and on good financial footing," Hardy says.
Hardy grew up in Pratt and says the Commission is prepared to take drastic steps, either putting Pratt into receivership -- having an accountant go in take over the finances, or dissolving the town completely -- no more mayor, no more council, no more police department. The town would become an unincorporated area of Kanawha County.
Reaction to the idea in the town is mixed. Some say they will be better off, others fear the loss of the police department.
The mayor wants the county to help, since they don't have enough money to pay off the tax liens. Commissioner Kent Carper says he will not use tax payer dollars to bail them out.
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