In a move that could dramatically boost tourism in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, a state Senate committee has approved a bill to give developers of tourist attractions a big tax break. If there's a downside to this proposal, it's not apparent now.
The bill, which originated in the Senate Economic Development Committee, would work in this way: A developer who agreed to invest $5 million or more in a tourist attraction that would draw more than 25 percent of its visitors from out of state would get a 25 percent break on its sales taxes for 10 years.
According to state tourism officials, Kentucky used a similar tax break to lure a $100 million auto race track and an $80 million aquarium, whose developers had been considering sites across the river in Ohio.
Except for that percentage of tax revenue that would be forgiven for a decade, there would be no cost to the state, said its sponsor, Sen. Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha. Rowe noted that the bill even requires developers seeking the tax break to pay for consultants to certify that they're eligible.