West Virginia: Fire and EMS Levy Confusion in Putnam County

The uncertainty and confusion around this situation is the relevant state code, as amended in 2022, does not lend itself to clarity on this issue.

Putnam County voters, by a margin of 52% to 48% voted for a fire and EMS levy on the general election ballot in November 2022. Until June 2022, this result meant the levy failed, as it didn’t reach the required 60% threshold. But the Legislature potentially changed the law in 2022, and modified the requirement to a simple majority, according to the county.

According to recent reporting from the Hurricane Breeze, the county was “not aware” of this change. They’re working with legal counsel to sort out the next steps.

"The Putnam Fire Department and Ambulance levy election received the needed majority in the 2022 General Election. County officials did not declare the levy as having passed because they were not aware of the June 10, 2022 code change. Election results must be declared within 60 days of the election. Putnam officials declared that the special levy received 52.9% of the vote but did not declare that it had been approved by voters."

A review of county-level election results in West Virginia from November 2022 indicates no other county had similar results. The Putnam County levy was the only county commission levy in the state that received “yes” votes from the 50% to 60% range.